We succeeded in our goal; we won the Gold Medal!
Criterion Our Approach
Attributions Throughout the year we were given help from many people regarding almost all the levels of our work: Experiments, bioinformatics analysis, implementation and public engagement are only a few examples of these areas. We used our attribution page to express our gratitude to these people for their ideas, advice and support.
Description Our project description includes the statistics of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma, the definition of the problem of the diagnosis of this type of cancer, the solution we developed, the description and the function of the components of our system. Finally, it includes our future steps and the challenges we met during the design of our project.
Contribution Making contributions for future iGEM teams embodies the spirit of the iGEM competition as it enables the scientists of tomorrow to avoid past mistakes and evolve their project in the best way possible. During the past years, many iGEM teams have used toehold switches to detect microRNAs facing the same problem; signal produced in the absence of the trigger sequence. This year, our team decided to give a solution to this matter, through the contribution of different parts to iGEM registry, which designed to lack the pre-RBS sequence in the loop minimizing the leakage signal produced in the absence of the trigger molecule.
Engineering Demonstration of the Engineering cycles for our synthetic biological system. The biological system that designed is about designing and building synthetic riboregulators called toehold switches with the purpose of detecting specific miRNA's for PDAC. The Engineering cycles of our system include improvements in the terms of riboregulators' functionality, the amplification of our parts using the EXPAR methods and experimental procedures for cloning.
Collaborations Over the past months we achieved an extensive number of successful collaborations with multiple other iGEM teams both from a scientific perspective as well as a cultural, and interpersonal one. In our collaboration page we proudly detail our common work with the respective teams, ranging from Meet- Ups to endless troubleshooting sessions and so much more, as well as the fruit they bore, that greatly helped us become better scientists.
Human Practices From the beginning of our project, our goal was to help people with pancreatic cancer to have an early diagnosis and consequently a therapy with a better outcome. Thus, we contacted a variety of scientists, experts, and communities related to our project in order to ensure that the outcome will reflect our goal in the best way possible. The feedback we took was valuable to us and had a crucial role in defining the main pillars of our work.
Implementation In our "Implementation" page, we describe how we envision our project being used in its final form in the future: That means we describe who the end-users are going to be, where the examination will take place and what is the goal of this method. Furthermore, we explain how we designed our project to comply with the guidelines of important organizations such as European Union and Who and mention some important safety issues that currently hinder its implementation.
Integrated Human Practices One of the main goals of our team is to continually evolve and always make the best possible for the people. Thus, and having in mind that no project can make a difference without proper public engagement, we presented our work to both scientists and everyday people, to oncologists and even companies and regulatory bodies related to the diagnostics field, in order to hear their opinion and advice. We wanted to ensure that no misdiagnosis will be made and that our diagnostic tool will be easily accessible to everybody, causing no harm to both environment and people, too. We took their comments under serious consideration and we can surely say that they helped us make our project better, from the lab to the final beneficiaries they helped us shape our project’s final form.
Model Our model consists of the following parts:
  • a) Deterministic: design of toehold switches (Nupack and python)
  • b) Statistical: analysis of toehold switches (Nupack and ViennaRNA)
  • c) Mathematical: mass reaction kinetics (Matlab)
  • d) Experiments: benchling model
  • e) Prototyping: hardware circuit and 3D design
Proof of Concept Our proof of concept is separated in the following parts:
a) Proving that our toehold switches are operating in the presence of the miRNA
b) Proving that with increasing amount of miRNA the fluorescent is increasing proportionally
c) Proving that the miRNA could be amplified with EXPAR method
Partnership Throughout the year, our team worked on METIS with one goal; to diagnose PDAC at its early stages and make a change on the world of cancer diagnosis.
At the same time as us, in the same country, iGEM Patras was developing PGasus, with the aim of creating a new comprehensive pharmacogenetics panel to adjust the dosage of a wide range of drugs adapted to a portable sequencing system.
That’s when our fruitful partnership with iGEM Patras began, a team with which we share the same goal; bring to life diagnosis of public health issues, through the help of synthetic biology.
Our teams reunited into a stronger one, worked hard and cooperated constructively upon all the possible fields - from February 2021 until the Giant Jamboree and hopefully for more! We moved forward together and we tried to lay the foundations to make our vision turn into reality! And as they say in such cases, success takes care of itself...!
Education and Communication Education
Our educational material was formed based on the educational levels existing in Greece:
  • 1) 12-15 (Junior High Schools): we coded an educational electronic game in Scratch (a software widely taught in Greek schools) providing information about synthetic biology
  • 2) 15-18 (High Schools): unfortunately, in Greece, High Schools completely ignore the existence of iGEM Competition, the better way for these ages to actively shape the future of synthetic biology. Therefore, we contacted private educational institutes as well as the Greek Ministry of Education to motivate schools into joining the synthetic biology research teams. Our efforts were succesful: with Greek Ministry's contribution, our seminar was delivered to every single High School in Greece!
  • 3) 18-25: we held workshops to motivate non-medical related fields to engage with research activities within the field of synthetic biology.
  • 4) iGEMers: webinar series on how to survive iGEM FR and Graphics

Activities held for the general public and scientists of multiple expertise:
  • 1) Webinars: Conference for the world day dedicated to cancer
  • 2) Conferences: esfie, molecular cloud, tech and the city
  • 3) TIF Helexpo
  • 4) Social Media: interactive quizzes and posts about synthetic biology for our followers
Excellence in another area Some of the team's members were very interested in entrepreneurship, so from the very beginning of the project we were also simultaneously working on our business plan.
1) We took part in a Balkan entrepreneurship competition ""Next Stage Challenge"" (, which had a double role as an incubator. There we presented our idea and received support through training and personalized one-on-one coaching. After 5 months of coaching, we managed to present our work in front of venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate actors looking for innovative ideas and at the finals take the first-place award (4.000 euros price).
2) We did an instrumental evaluation of our project, by doing a Stakeholder - Market - Competitive Analysis, a Business Plan (Team-plan, SWOT Analysis, Funding Strategy, Business-Model-Canva, and a Timeline Plan).
3) After we were finished with the instrumental evaluation of our project, we continued with finding out about the existing regulations regarding diagnostic tests and with learning how to manage our Intellectual Property. Afterwards, we talked to industries and manufacturers that are interested in making METIS come true!