SOURCE: Geneart AG

May 23, 2007 08:37 ET

GENEART sponsors MIT's 2007 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM)


- 55 student teams from all over the world are participating in this year's iGEM competition. Their goal is to design synthetic biological machines which can operate in living cells.

- GENEART, primary DNA synthesis sponsor of iGEM, to provide teams with 100,000 base pairs of synthetic DNA and additional cash donation.

GENEART AG and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) announce today their collaboration during this year's International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM). GENEART will provide 100,000 base pairs of new synthetic DNA constructs for iGEM teams at a highly subsidized rate and a cash donation to the iGEM program. During this year's competition, hundreds of undergraduate students will build biological machines from standard, interchangeable parts and operate these machines in living cells. The Registry of Standard Biological Parts, a genetic library at MIT, will provide a kit of standardized parts for the genetic machines. The teams will make new biological parts of their own design and have them synthesized by GENEART. These new parts will then be added to the Registry for the teams in next year's competition.

iGEM started in 2004 with five teams and has grown to 55 teams this year. The teams are from countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, India, China, and Turkey. In November, the teams will present their summer's work at the iGEM Competition Jamboree at MIT. Awards will be presented for the most interesting projects.

Last summer, iGEM teams engineered amazing biological machines often with successful applications in live cells. For example, a team from Edinburgh, Scotland modified E. coli (bacteria) to detect low concentrations of arsenic in well water by changing its acidity, or pH level. Their discovery is particularly useful in developing countries where arsenic often contaminates drinking water, causing skin lesions and cancer. Another team of MIT students modified E. coli, a standard but foul-smelling organism in microbiological labs, to smell like mint leaves or bananas. One objective was to enable microbiologists to work in more pleasantly scented biological labs.

"The possibilities in Synthetic Biology have the potential for another industrial revolution. Potential applications span from the sustainable and cost efficient production of complex molecules for the pharmaceutical or the food industry, to the generation of energy sources such as hydrogen by microorganisms. As the world wide leader in gene synthesis, we are an important part of this new development by designing and delivering the necessary BioBricks (biological parts). We are therefore happy to support this MIT initiative to supply young scientists all over the world with the resources necessary to be part of this new scientific revolution." Prof. Dr. Ralf Wagner, CEO / CSO of GENEART

"Today, microbiologists spend too much of their time manipulating DNA and too much of their creativity finding shortcuts to ease this burden. Direct synthesis of DNA decouples the work of designing a biological system from its fabrication, accelerating progress in biology and permitting a broader range of designs. The cost of synthetic DNA has been decreasing but is still out of reach for many students. This generous offer from GENEART gives the students in the iGEM competition a chance to live in the future, a few years from now, when DNA synthesis will be the least expensive way to manipulate DNA and will be available to students like those in iGEM. We are grateful to GENEART for their support of iGEM and for providing this unique opportunity to the teams." Randy Rettberg, Director of iGEM, MIT.

Legal Information This document may contain estimates, prognoses and opinions about company plans and objectives, products or services, future results, opinions about these results or opinions leading up to these results. All these projections into the future are subject to risk, uncertainty and unforeseeable change outside the control of the GENEART Group. Many factors may lead to actual results, which considerably deviate from the given projections for these results.


Founded in 1999, GENEART today is the globally leading specialists providing optimized gene solutions to research institutions as well as the pharma, biotech and chemical industries. GENEART offers integrated product systems based on gene synthesis for developing innovative drugs, in particular DNA- and protein-based therapeutics and vaccines, as well as for identifying improved industrial enzymes. The service portfolio ranges from the manufacturing of optimized synthetic genes in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001:2000 and the generation of gene libraries in combinatorial biology, to the production and development of DNA-based drugs. GENEART, currently a team of more than 100 employees in Regensburg and the subsidiary in Toronto/Canada, reached break even in 2005 and is listed on the German Stock Exchange, Frankfurt, since May 2006.

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Contact Information

  • For further inquiries, please contact:

    Bernd Merkl
    Josef-Engert-Str. 11
    D-93053 Regensburg
    Tel.: +49-(0)941-942 76 - 38
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    Randy Rettberg
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    77 Massachusetts Avenue, 32-314
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
    Tel: 617-258-5244
    Email Contact