Jonas Juozapaitis and Lorenzo Camisi, PhD students at the Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre (VU LSC), have won the very first and only gold medal of the iDEC 2021 (International Directed Evolution Competition).
According to Dr. Gintaras Valinčius, Director of the VU LSC, “Vilnius_GMC“ team proposed a solution to reprogram a protein used by pathogenic bacteria for reproduction and turn it into a new type of antibacterial agent against one of the most dangerous pathogens – Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium, if it were to acquire complete resistance to currently known antibiotics, would lead to a mortality rate of more than 80% of those infected.
‘The project was carried out using microfluidic technology developed by the VU LSC in collaboration with Harvard University scientists, so it is not surprising that our PhD students had a great mentor Prof. Linas Mažutis, the developer of this technology. We have no doubt that the discoveries made by our very talented PhD students one day will lead to the development of high-quality new medicines to treat the most dangerous infectious diseases. Thank you, Jonas and Lorenzo, for a great victory!’, Director of the VU LSC expressed his joy and gratitude.
The winners themselves, Juozapaitis and Camisi, said that they were also awarded the Most Potential Tool prize and, together with two other teams, the Best Community Building prize. The team also won the Screening Assay Award, Best Presentation and Best Target Molecule.
‘Together with PhD student L. Camisi, we formed the team “Vilnius_GMC” and participated in the iDEC 2021 (International Directed Evolution Competition). This is the first year of the competition and it is very similar to iGEM, but the research direction is more specific. The competition is all about using directed evolution to improve a protein, a genome or a biochemical pathway in an organism. The competition took place over the summer and now the final conference has taken place’ , said the winners.
You can find more information about “Vilnius_GMC” project "Ultra-high throughput evolution of a bacterial endolysin as a new antimicrobial agent" here.
iDEC 2021 (International Directed Evolution Competition) is a new international competition in the field of molecular biology, which aims to promote the use of directed evolution techniques to develop new biotechnological products.