EBICS co-sponsored the 2012 MIT International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM)Team. iGEM was established in 2004 as the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition with the goal to foster education, scientific research, and the development of open community and collaboration.
The 2012 MIT iGEM project "In Vivo Molecular Computation Using RNA Strand Displacement in Mammalian Cells," focuses on a novel method of in vivo computation based on the principle of RNA strand displacement towards the creation of synthetic biological circuits comprising multi-input sensing, sophisticated information processing, and precisely regulated actuation in mammalian cells. Live cell sensory devices based on short RNA strand detect endogenous mRNA levels and perform sophisticated digital logic computation through catalytic strand displacement cascades that ensure reliable ON/OFF responses. Actuation is achieved with tough decoy RNAs in a double-repression configuration that can regulate a wide array of desired protein outputs. The use of short RNAs for sensing, processing, and actuation provides an almost limitless molecular design space, predictable behavior of processing units, and highly scalable circuits. The approach provides a foundation for many useful applications including tissue engineering, diagnostics, and manufacturing.