Great distinction for the Patras Medicine student team at the “iGEM 2022” Global Synthetic Biology Competition

The Patras_Medicine student team participated in the Global Synthetic Biology Competition “iGEM 2022” (international Genetically Engineered Machine) held in Paris, October 26-28, 2022. A total of 356 teams from 42 countries and distinguished Universities worldwide participated in the competition.

The Patras_Medicine student team with its work “syn-PNOIA – Redefining Lung Cancer Diagnosis” after evaluation by a jury of 5 judges won the following in the Undergraduate category:

Gold metal

1st Prize in the “Diagnostics” Category (Best Diagnostics Project)

1st Best Wiki Award

What is project syn-PNOIA?

We develop a non-invasive diagnostic tool for detecting NSCLC in its early stages, aiming to increase patient chances of survival.

How it all started?

Patras Medicine was formed in December 2021 with a shared vision; to contribute to the battle against lung cancer. With over 25% of all cancer fatalities attributed to lung cancer, including small and non-small cell lung cancer, it is the deadliest type of cancer among men and women. Detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable, is crucial to patients’ survival, as with many other cancer types. The cure rate for people with localized, early-stage lung cancer can reach 80% to 90% [1]. The team’s objective was to develop a new approach to diagnosis that would be non-invasive, inexpensive, accurate, sensitive, and quick. Shielding and saving human life has been our motivation as Patras Medicine team to develop our test named syn-PNOIA and contribute to the progress of medical science.

Why “syn-PNOIA”?

syn-PNOIA consists of the prefix “syn-,” which means “together,” and the suffix “-pnoia,” which originates from the Greek word “pneo,” pointing to breath fresh air. Additionally, without the assistance of Synthetic Biology, or SynBio for short, which gives the prefix “syn” a new meaning, our project would not be possible. With “syn-PNOIA,” we breathe safer, healthier, and longer. As a result, collectively, we bring about the symbol of agreement on a healthier way of life.

What about liquid biopsies?

Liquid biopsy allows cancer detection, analysis, and monitoring in various body effluents, such as blood or urine, instead of a fragment of cancer tissue [2]. The body fluid used most commonly for liquid biopsy is blood. By analyzing the sample for cancer cells or circulating tumor DNA, doctors can determine whether a tumor is present or whether treatment is working. In addition, liquid biopsies use blood as a tracking device for neoplastic cells in tumors. They also allow doctors to monitor how treatments work by observing mutations occurring over time within a tumor cell. Liquid biopsies are performed on peripheral blood, which is simple to access, allowing for more widespread use, particularly in patients who cannot undergo surgery.

On the other hand, standard tissue biopsies typically require time-intensive and invasive procedures, such as bronchoscopy for lung cancer, to discover a malignancy. Often, these procedures do not seem appealing to the patient leading to them not getting tested at the onset of the disease. Because of this, liquid biopsies provide a simple way to diagnose malignancies, speeding up tumor identification and treatment of the patient. In addition, liquid biopsy, in contrast to tissue biopsy, allows non-invasive and real-time monitoring of disease development. As the biomarkers have a lifetime of several minutes to a few hours, we can estimate the risk for metastatic relapse or metastatic progression, provide information about the tumor’s heterogeneity, and maybe identify therapeutic targets better.

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