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UPF students start a crowdfunding campaign to fund a project for the prevention of metastasis

UPF students start a crowdfunding campaign to fund a project for the prevention of metastasis

The team will present their research at an international synthetic biology competition to be held in Boston next October.


A group of students on the bachelor’s degrees of Human Biology and Biomedical Engineering at UPF and Telecommunication Engineering at the UPC will be present at the iGEM  (International Genetically Engineered Machine), an international synthetic biology competition held annually in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Catalan team will present an innovative project based on a recent discovery that involves a relationship between the start of metastasis and palmitic acid. To fund the project, the students have opened a campaign on the Fundació Goteo crowdfunding platform.

Palmitic acid not only plays a role in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases but its recent implication in cancer has recently been described, as it acts as a principal source of energy for the tumour cells in the triggering of metastasis.

The main aim of the project is to design a genetically modified bacterium optimizing its metabolism of long-chain fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, so that its absorption is as effective as possible. 

This bacterium would compete in the intestinal absorption of palmitic acid in order to reduce its levels of concentration in blood plasma after ingestion. The system would be the “proof of concept” that would serve to create a probiotic for patients with a tumour, as a preventive treatment of metastasis.

The team is supported by both the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS) and the Department of Information and Communications Technologies (DTIC) at UPF as well as the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG). Even so, starting a project of this size requires significant financial contributions. For this reason, the team has started the crowdfunding campaign to cover all expenses involving laboratory equipment, specialized technology or registration for the iGEM competition.