Synthetic Biology is a quite new field of Biology which allows scientists and engineers to construct and edit biological organisms to manufacture products which have foundation, healthcare, agricultural and environmental benefits.
In Pakistan, this initiative is being supported by the Government of KP and Institute of Integrative Biosciences, who are both providing the funding and resources for the students to carry out their projects. Last year, was the first time that a team from Pakistan was chosen for this competition and they bagged a Bronze Medal at iGEM world championship 2016 in Boston. They engineered a bacteria that could detect poisonous gases emitted from exhausts.
Heavy Metal Contamination is serious threat to Pakistan and its economy. According to a report by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, a frightening, 80% of the water resources are contaminated and the presence of heavy metals is the main contributor to this problem.
This year team is built comprises of 12 members from all over Pakistan from more than 900 applicants for the International Genetically Engineered Competition (iGEM) under the supervision of Dr. Faisal, principal investigator and team supervisor who is also the director of the Institute of Integrative Biosciences at CECOS University. They are planning to engineer a fish that will detect the presence of heavy metals in water. In the first phase of project team will engineer an E. coli that will detect the presence of 5 heavy metals in water and give colors according the contaminant.
iGEM is a Synthetic Biology competition which is annually held in Boston, USA. Along with the project, they also visit different schools to spread awareness regarding Science, Technology and the use of Science.