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iGEM teams from Universite Paris-Saclay

gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world

French students genetically engineer machines to win global competition

Cleaning infected hospital wastewater and developing a communication system for bacteria, two projects developed by students from Université Paris-Saclay have won a worldwide synthetic biology competition.

The two teams built genetically engineered systems using biological parts called BioBricks.

One team, GO Paris-Saclay, addressed the problem of cytotoxic anticancer drugs released from hospital wastewater. They focused on the biotransformation of a widely used anticancer drug, methotrexate (MTX), and developed a synthetic Escherichia coli strain, called ‘MethotrExit’, that drastically removes MTX from wastewater. Since some BioBricks are slightly toxic, the team also developed a device to tackle this.

The other team, Evry Paris-Saclay, worked on a communication system that allows bacteria to send specific signals for particular tasks. Aiming to develop a new system for cell-to-cell communication in E. coli, totally different from the native system, peptides (amino acid polymers) were used to construct new communications between bacteria. There are many uses for this – from more accurate diagnosis of complex diseases, to better identifying environmental pollutants.

Evry Paris-Saclay was also nominated for the “Best New Composite Part” Special Prize.

The competition is run by the iGEM Foundation – an independent non-profit dedicated to advancing synthetic biology, education, competition, and collaboration – and gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world. Every year nearly 6,000 people take part.


For more information or to speak to the teams, contact Stephanie Mullins at or call +44 (0) 1582 790 706

GO Paris-Saclay represents Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris-Saclay, and Evry Paris-Saclay represents Université Evry Val-d’Essonne, Université Paris-Saclay. Both projects were laureates of the Université Paris-Saclay Campus Life’s Call for projects 2018. They were also supported by the School Biology, Medicine & Pharmacy (BMP) and by the research department Life Sciences (SDV) of the Université Paris-Saclay.

Team Evry Paris-Saclay was hosted by the synthetic biology platform abSYNTH of Genopole in the iSSB lab of UMR8030 Génomique Métabolique. It was supported by the Genopole, University d’Evry, French Embassy in USA, IDT, SnapGene, Smart Bioscience, Abolis Biotechnologies and Manounou Coud. The advisors and supervisors are members of the iSSB lab of UMR8030 Génomique Métabolique (CEA-CNRS-UEVE) and of the Micalis Institute (UMR1319 INRA-APT). For more information:

Team GO Paris-Saclay was hosted by the Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell (I2BC, UMR9198). It was supported by the I2BC, University Paris-Sud, French Embassy in USA, IDT (Integrated DNA Technologies), GE HealthCare, DB DesignBro, MathWorks and New England Biolabs. The advisors and supervisors are members of the I2BC lab of UMR9198 (CEA-CNRS-UPSUD). For more information:

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