UPNA students will defend their projects on mental health and circular economy at the IGEM competition in Paris


A group of students from Biotechnology, Science and Data Science degrees at Navarra State University (UPNA) will attend Paris from October 26-28 to defend their work in mental health and circular economy in the international competition of synthetic biology IGEM. International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition).

The team of twelve students was completed by Estíbaliz Larrainzar Rodríguez and Idoia Áriz Arnedo, the two main researchers of the project, and also consists of technicians from UPNA, Ainhoa ​​Zulet González and Chair of Synthetic Biology. Hugo Salas Pedroarena..

In the competition, students will have the opportunity to showcase the steps they have taken to “present a new locally developed project to bring synthetic biology closer to society and solve a problem on a global scale”. He explains that the study, titled ‘Zero: A Circular Economy Solution to Combat Depression’, is based on mental health and the circular economy as the cornerstone, using by-products from the food industry to obtain serotonin through genetically modified bacteria. UPNA on a note.

The project is supported by UPNA through the Head of Synthetic Biology through an agreement with the National Center for Technology and Food Safety (CNTA) and sponsored by the pharmaceutical company CINFA and President of Bardenas Reales and President of NILSA. Both Local Sustainability of UPNA.

“Serotonin, or the happiness hormone, is a substance produced by the human body, the absence of which has been associated with diseases such as depression and anxiety. We also wanted to influence the spread of the biology synthetic and circular economy throughout the project. As potential key tools for the development of such local solutions, in the face of post-pandemic global problems, for example such as the mental health status of the community, which decreased a lot after the quarantine and formed the central axis of this project”, indicate students.

“This is a project that we started this edition but which is intended to be continued by future UPNA teams. The ultimate goal is to obtain a food supplement containing serotonin, which is produced from by-products that will ‘add value in its second life. During the development of the project, we collaborated with different companies in the agri-food and pharmaceutical sectors. We got in touch and, in collaboration with some people interested in the initiative, suggested that this compound be encapsulated in the future for ingestion,” added the team’s advisors.

The iGEM UPNAvarra 2022 team consists of Irene Gil Lobo, Raquel Iriarte Cortes, Sergio Maraña Tolosa, Adriana Martínez Cifuentes, María Roldán Vergarachea, Aroa Roncal Pérez, Susana San Ildefonso García, Mario Santafé Bayer Zandio and students. Unai Gurbindo González and Mikel García Amez (Data Science) and Aitor Ayape Rodriguez (Science). It also consists of Ainhoa ​​Zulet González and Hugo Salas Pedroarena (technicians from the Chair of Synthetic Biology) and Idoia Ariz and Estíbaliz Larrainzar (main researchers of the UPNAvarra 2022 team).

Among the team’s advisors are Juanjo Rubio, director of the Social Innovation Unit promoted by the Government of Navarra, professors in charge of the Chair in Synthetic Biology at UPNA, Esther González García, Rosa Murillo Pérez and Carlos López Molina, and Inés Echevarría, director of R&D from the CNTA, and new analytical applications responsible person is María José Saiz. Joining them are Álex Pascual Cid, Laura Giménez and Pablo Allo Martínez (UPNAvarra 2019 students) and María Ancín Rípodas (principal investigator of the UPNAvarra 2019 team).

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