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What if instead of just learning about a problem, you actually set out to try to find a solution? Using synthetic biology, that’s exactly what the iGEM—international genetically engineered machine—program aims to do. Each year the iGEM Competition inspires nearly 6,000 students around the world to work in teams to address a unique challenge in their local community. 

ASIJ’s 2018 team worked on Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency, a common genetic disorder. The defective gene which causes the disorder is carried by 1 in 25 people and creates a build up of antitrypsin in liver cells and and inability to inhibit proteases in the lungs, leading to damage in both. The iGEM team’s aim to fix the base pair mutation in the SERPINA1 gene so that proper antitrypsin could be produced.

Thank you to the What’s the Dealio podcast team for producing this story. You can listen to more of their audio content here.

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