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Blog #20 - Won a gene synthesis from Eurofins

by Michael 03:25, 18 July 2014 (CDT)

Two weeks ago we had an email in our inbox that made us very happy: We had won a gene synthesis from Eurofins Genomics!

On Wednesday, we were then visited by Ms. Blumstein who handed us the voucher. Then we took this beautiful photo:

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Blog #19 - Noneffective Antibiotics (Part III): Have the Pharma Giants Lost The Race?

By NBailly 15:39, July 15 2014 (CDT)

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David and Goliath
Small Companies have taken leading position in antibiotics research. Picture by LegalIT Lawyers.

It is not the big pharma companies that will develop the desperately needed new generation of antibiotics that can even cope with multi-resistant bacteria such as MRSA. Instead, some smaller companies who never gave up researching this field are now future market leaders. As the German business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported this June, it is companies like the British-Swedish Astra Zeneca or Hoffmann-La Roche spin off Basilea that are now in a leading position. Read more...

Blog #18 - Noneffective Antibiotics (Part II): Hospitals as Receptacles for Multi-Resistant Pathogens

By NBailly 17:21, July 14 2014 (CDT)

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SEM of a human immune cell ingesting MRSA
Picture by NIAID.

In their article Noneffective Antibiotics published in June, the German business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche explains it as follows: Antibiotics are the natural weapon of molds or soil microbes against competing bacterial growth. These bacteria under siege in turn counterattack with resistances: attack and defense – the natural course of evolution. Thus it was only natural, too, that since the first human use of penicillin and co., pathogens have developed strategies in order to escape the antibiotics’ effect albeit these drugs are quite insidious weapons. Read more...

Blog #17 - Open Hardware at the Maker Faire Hannover

Michael 03:55, 6 July 2014 (CDT)

This weekend Florian, René and Michael joined Ansgar on a trip to the Maker Faire Hannover 2014.

The Maker Faire is an exhibition with things that people built on their own using readily available tools. Dozens of 3D printers and microcontrollers can be examined and there are a lot of devices visitors can interact with. Apart from the fire-spitting dragon, our OD and fluorescence measurement devices attracted a lot of attention. We spoke with hundreds of visitors and had a lot of interesting conversations. Read more...

Blog #16 - iGEM team at RWTH Open House

By NBailly 15:22, June 29 2014 (CDT)

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Our iGEM stand
Nina and Florian showed students how they can get involved in research outside of the programs..

Yesterday, RWTH organized an open house for students from ages 14 to 16. Different departments, institutes and student councils presented exhibits, latest research projects, and the many programs they offer. Students could actively try out science and research in prepared experiments at each stand. Various groups of student representatives also offered first hand advice to students with respect to what to study and when and where to collect information. In presentations about the different fields of studies, students gained first insights into the world of academic professions and other career perspectives. Read more...

Blog #15 - Noneffective Antibiotics (Part I): Dangerous Battle against Killer Germs

By NBailly 17:06, June 23 2014 (CDT)

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SEM of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Picture by Janice Haney Carr.

Are we soon going to be dying of pneumonia again? It is almost unimaginable, but the danger that our antibiotics will soon fail against plagues thought to be conquered a long time ago, is eminent. In fact, the situation has grown very acute. The all-purpose weapon antibiotic is on the verge of losing its vigor since many pathogens, such as the pneumonia causing bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa , have become resistant. Experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) have already raised a loud alarm: In their recently published first global resistance report, they are drawing a rather apocalyptic picture. If nothing is done, doctors soon might not be able to do anything but stand helplessly next to their patients while they are dying from nowadays easily curable diseases or even smallest wound infections. Read more...

Blog #14 - Students Explore Careers in Synthetic Biology

By NBailly 21:11, June 12 2014 (CDT)

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Our "Synthetic Biology" teaching module has come to an end. Today was our last day at Kaiser-Karl-Gymnasium in Aachen, where we have worked together with a grade 9 biology-chemistry class for past 1 1/2 months. The students have learned about the iGEM and synthetic biology in general. We presented our project to the class, and explained various aspects for our endeavour in more detail.

To give interested students some overview of how they can get involved in synthetic biology, Vera, Florian, Ansgar and Björn gave short presentations about each university program at RWTH represented in our team. Read more...

Blog #13 - Teaching Module Wrap-Up

By NBailly 16:32, June 05 2014 (CDT)

Today Nina and Arne discussed last class's experiment. Arne explained to the students the meaning behind the values measured, and how the students can use the value to determine the concentration of riboflavin in their vanilla pudding samples. Read more...

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Blog #12 - Glowing vanilla pudding

By NBailly 16:16, June 02 2014 (CDT)

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Our iGEM stand
Nina and Florian showed students how they can get involved in research outside of the programs..

The topics of today's double lesson was quorum sensing as well as measurement of fluorescence. At the beginning of class, the students form 6 groups and start an experiment dealing with fluorescence: Each group weighs and dissolves 4g of vanilla pudding powder in 50mL of water. While conducting the experiment, each group is supervised by a member of our iGEM team. [ Read more...]

Blog #11 - No time for high politics

By NBailly 15:42, May 31 2014 (CDT)

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UN Climate Change Conference
Summits like the UN Climate Change Conference are the wrong approach to problems such as antibiotic resistances, says Lars Fischer. Picture from the Intern Blog of American University.

International collaborations against antibiotic resistances are all well and good, but the UN Climate Change conference of all collaborations shows why coordination at the government level is the wrong approach, says Lars Fischer, editorial journalist at "Spektrum Der Wissenschaft". Not even a century ago, the discovery of antibiotics caused a decisive turn for the better in the millennia-long battle against infectious diseases. But while many already saw pathogenic agents eradicated and a golden age of medicine seemed within reach, we have now however reached an abyss: a dramatic relapse into a world looms ahead, where microorganisms are again rulers over life and death.

The threat emanating from the increasing antibiotic resistances is existential—for every one of us, as well as the countries and society itself. That the world community unites in a supranational board in order to face the latter, suggests itself. However, as alluring as the vision of an intergovernmental panel on antimicrobial resistance may be, as evoked by Mark Woolhouse and Jeremy Farrar (authors of the Nature article "Policy: An intergovernmental panel on antimicrobial resistance", published May 2014), this thought is gravely mistaken. Read more...

Blog #10 - Microorganisms on the rise

By NBailly 16:05, May 26 2014 (CDT)

Last lesson students at Kaiser-Karl-Gymnasium took environmental samples using a variety of different contact agar plates. On the weekend, René examined the plates under the microscope and took photos. Today René and Nina present the students the results of the experiment. But first, we showed the students an excerpt from the TV show "Planetopia" that broaches the issue "Hygiene in every-day life".

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Staphylo- and micrococci as well as Enterobacteria, Candida yeasts and miscellaneous fungi are found on the majority of plates. But why is there no growth on the plates containing the antibiotic? Actually, what is an antibiotic, how does it work and why are there multi-resistant pathogens? Nina explained the answer to all these questions to the students using descriptive graphics, and concluded the topic "Microorganisms in our Environment" with a short summmary.

As a starter for our next topic that is relevant to our project, we distribute a worksheet about quorum sensing among the students. For the remainder of the lesson, the students read the text and begin to answer the attached questions.

Blog #9 - Going to Munich

By AZimmermann 15:02, May 23 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

on the coming weekend 3 of our team (Markus, Michael and Arne) are going to travel to Munich for the iGEM meetup iGEM meets CAS. We are very excited for this and can’t wait to meet all the other teams who will be attending. Stay tuned to this blog to see the first pictures when we come back!

So stay tuned!

Blog #8 - iGEM team members back 2 school

By NBailly 16:00, May 22 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts, Since our last visit, the student of the biology-chemistry course at Kaiser-Karl-Gymnasium in Aachen have been busy studying the basics of protein biosynthesis and the "lock and key" model. Now the 9th graders are prepared to have a closer look at synthetic biology and our project.

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Each year, many people die of nosocominal infections - infections that the patients acquired in a hospital. However, these infections would be preventable in large part through better hygiene programs. Diseases caused by multi-resistant pathogens are especially critical because therapy options are very limited in these cases.

But actually, what are pathogens exactly and where do they come from? In order to answer these questions, we start the teaching module with the topic "Microorganisms in our Environment". In this part, we explain which germs we encounter every day, and how be can best protect ourselves from them.

In order to demonstrate how many and which microorganisms are our steady companions, we conduct an experiment with the students. A pair of students received 3 agar plates: one with regular LB agar, one plate with agar supplemented by an antibiotic, and one selective agar plate for yeasts and fungi. Equipped with the plates, the students wander through their school and take contact samples from places they think many microorganisms grow there. We will incubate the plates over the weekend so that we can show the students in the next lesson what has grown on their samples.

Blog #7 - The Biobricks have arrived

By AZimmermann 16:02, May 12 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

we have finally gotten the iGEM 2014 biobricks!

Aachen Biobricks arrival 2014.jpg

Now we can really start working on the molecular side of our project.

The reveal of our project, coupled with the launch of our new website will be done by the end of next week.

So stay tuned!

Blog #6 - Preparing Cool Experiments

By AZimmermann 12:12, May 7 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

We are currently working together with the Kaiser-Karl-Gymnasium in Aachen. Together we are teaching the students about synthetic biology, iGEM and our project in particular. As a part of this, we are designing cool experiments for the students to do themselves. Here a some nice pictures of us preparing them:

  • We got a fluorescence readout!

Blog #5 - Assembly in progress

By AZimmermann 12:56, May 5 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

if you are like us and can't wait for our wiki page to go fully online (see last post for more information) and the project to be fully revealed, here are some pictures to tide you over until then:

Can you guess what we are assembling?

  • Hier Text möglich

  • Hier Text möglich

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  • Hier Text möglich

Blog #4 - We are approved!

By AZimmermann 11:00, May 4 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

we are more than happy to finally be able to announce that our application has been finally approved by the iGEM headquarters. Now nothing will stand between us and our journey towards the giant Jamboree at the end of October!

This will bring a few changes towards especially this site. With the approval we now have access to our own wiki website hosted on the iGEM servers. We will migrate all our previous content towards this site in the next weeks. This will include everyhting already posted on here. As soon as we have finished preparing the full migration you will automatically be redirected, so you do not need to remember a different website for all your IGEM Aachen information.

As soon as the migrations has been completed you will also find all the details you need to know about our project we have been teasing about the past weeks on facebook and twitter. So stay tuned!

The project has been progressing nicely in part due to the awesome iGEM Kits provided by NEB:

Aachen NEB Kit Arrival.jpg

NEB you are awesome!

Also as always you can follow us on Facebook] or Twitter]for more information and a look behind the scenes.

Blog #3 - School Project Kick-Off

By NBailly 20:48, April 28 2014 (CDT)

Today was the kick-off for the cooperation between our iGEM team and the Kaiser-Karl-Gymnasium, a secondary school in Aachen. In the upcoming weeks, exciting school lessons with members of our iGEM team await the students of the 9th grade biology-chemistry class. Different aspects of our project will be highlighted and explained to the students. Demonstrative experiments will explain the practical relevance.

In today's lesson, our members Nina and René offered the students a short impression of what to expect in the course of this teaching module. We also explained synthetic biology and the goal of our project.

Blog #2 - The box is opened

By AZimmermann 9:46, April 28 2014 (CDT)

Hello iGEM enthusiasts,

interested to see what is inside the box from the previous post?

  • Hier Text möglich

  • Hier Text möglich

  • Hier Text möglich

Guess what we are building?

Blog #1 - The opening

By AZimmermann 10:31, April 24 2014 (CDT)

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Hello everyone, the iGEM competition has officially started and we are taking part! If you are as excited as we are stay tuned as we will unveil everything about our project in the upcoming weeks. This blog will function as a behind the scenes look of the project and the team. So stay tuned for everything iGEM Aachen!

In the meantime you can check us out on Facebook or Twitter for more updates.

This year Aachen is rocking iGEM!