Vilnius iGEM, a team of Vilnius University students, presented AmeBye, a project targeting invasive Entamoeba histolytica species that causes amoebiasis – an infection of the human gastrointestinal tract.
Today amoebiasis is the 3rd deadliest protist caused infection in the world. It is estimated, that about 50 million people have a symptomatic form of amebiasis, and 100 000 of them die annually.
Yet the real numbers of the infection might be even higher. Only 10 percent of infected people feel symptoms and some cases do not get identified because of poor data collection in regions where this infection is endemic, mostly – developing countries.
Although this infection is known for at least 160 years, there are no designed vaccines. Current infection prevention is unspecific, based on good sanitation, avoidance of contaminated food and hands.
In response to the current situation, Vilnius iGEM team created probiotics and rapid diagnostic test. Locals in the infection area or travellers could consume the probiotics to prevent the spread of the disease to other countries. In addition, the test has the potential to replace the expensive and specialized equipment currently used to detect amoebiasis. Due to its low price, these tests could be valuable not only for healthcare institutions but for in-home use as well.
Created tools also have the potential to contribute to sustainable development goals worldwide. According to Vilnius-iGEM team, similar inventions may contribute to the fight against tropical disease epidemics.
AmeBye project won a gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) held in Paris on November 4 – 14.
This is the third time that Lithuanian representatives have won the grand prize of the iGEM competition.