Sheffield students help battle antibiotic resistance

Students from the University of Sheffield are currently building a device to help tackle antibiotic resistance.

Saylee Jangam, a team member of iGEM, says: “Essentially, we looked at ways we could slow down the build-up of resistance and one of the ways we found we could do this was by having more informed prescriptions.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), believe that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today. Antibiotic resistance can gradually occur over time but more often than not it is a long term consequence caused by the misuse of antibiotics.

“When you have a viral infection, you don’t actually need antibiotics. Taking antibiotics during a viral infection promotes resistance for no benefit. If a quick diagnostic device were available to tell the difference between a viral and a bacterial infection, doctors could make more informed prescriptions to patients”, Jangam says.

Their tool is a biologically engineered reporter system that detects the presence of a bacterial infection in the patient’s blood.

The team, consisting of ten students from a wide range of backgrounds (Economics, Chemistry, Molecular Biology…) will present their project at the iGEM Giant Jamboree on the 27th October.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Giant Jamboree is an annual and worldwide competition in Synthetic Biology, held in Boston, USA. Its aim is to encourage collaboration and open community and to solve real-world challenges.

“It was a very rewarding experience as I had the opportunity to work with students and PhD advisors from a variety of disciplines from Economics to Molecular Biology. We had supervisors and this allowed us to gain more visibility within the University.

We also had the chance to participate in European and UK Team Meet-ups and had the chance of networking academically, sharing ideas and gaining feedback on our project. All in all, iGEM has allowed me to gain a better perspective on genetic engineering, it’s wide scope in industry and research, as well as allowed me to travel and meet like-minded people!”

Jangam was also in charge of media and publicity for the team which involved writing blogs, managing the social media accounts (Instagram: igemsheff) and communicating with other teams.

“I will be tweeting from @shefunilife while we are in Boston so keep an eye out for that!”

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