Students invent process for preventing food poisoning

Friday, 22 November 2019
A group of undergraduate students from Life Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science has won an international prize for their innovative solution for preventing a deadly type of food poisoning.

The team of 10 students took gold at the internationally renowned iGEM competition (International Genetically Engineered Machine). 

The competition challenges multidisciplinary teams to work together to design, build, test and measure a system of their own design using interchangeable biological parts and standard molecular biology techniques. 

The Nottingham team’s winning project, ‘Notox’, aims to provide a cheaper and faster alternative to current testing methods for preventing botulism – a deadly type of food poisoning. 

The team engineered a safe strain of bacteria, which could be injected into the packaged food to be tested. This safe strain produces volatile acetone rather than toxin if the food packaging methods false – the acetone gas can then be simply and quickly detected using an electronic nose also designed by the team.

After travelling to Boston, USA to present their work at the iGEM jamboree, the team took home the gold medal, along with nominations for ‘Best Food and Nutrition project’ and ‘Best Human Practices’.

“iGEM has given our team the opportunity to contribute to the rapidly developing synthetic biology field at such a young age, by developing a project which is able to tackle real-world issues. It has given me a realistic insight into the 'life of a scientist' and has inspired me to pursue a career in the lab. However, the real benefits to my career are all of the skills I gained along the way such as lab work, problem-solving, presentation, and many other skills which will benefit any career I choose, whether it is inside or out of the lab.” Saniya Crouch, Team Leader Nottingham iGEM 2019

On behalf of everyone at the University of Nottingham, we would like to congratulate the team on their win and on their innovative solution.

Student Communications Officer

Communications and Marketing
University Park Campus
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone:+44 (0)115 82 32353