Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC), Celebrating 20 years

Greater Toronto Projects 2013

by sbccadmin on February 20, 2013

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1. Engineering Broad Spectrum Pathogen Resistance in a Model Dicot Plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) by Overexpressing Key LTP Genes
Jeremy Gungabeesoon and Seung Joon Kim
Engineering a genetically enhanced dicot plant that is resistant to a broad range of plant diseases, by overexpressing the genes that play a significant role in resistance. Enhanced disease resistance in dicot plants could prevent yield losses and improve agricultural production of dicot crops, such as soybean, canola and tomatoes.

2. Activating the immune system to kill cancer cells
Magdalene Au
The project involves using a combination of antibodies to mark cancer cells for destruction. The antibodies activate a group of proteins in the immune system that pierce the membrane of cancer cells.

3. Investigating the Roles of GSK-3a, GSK-3b, b-catenin, and c-myc in Tumorigenesis
Yael Boyd and Anna Jiang
Yael Boyd, 16, and Anna Jiang, 16, both Grade 11 students at the University of Toronto Schools, intend to develop a better understanding of liver tumorigenesis by investigating the roles of and interactions between various genes in order to unveil possible future treatment targets.

4. Neuroregenerative Effects of Caltubin in Human Cell Culture Model of Parkinson’s Disease
Sophia Ly and June Dong
Parkinson’s disease arises from the degeneration of neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta of the brain. Sophia Ly and June Dong, both 17, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, are exploring a potential cure for Parkinson’s disease by examining the ability for caltubin, a protein naturally found in pond snails, to prevent neurodegeneration in a human cell culture model of the condition.

5. The Use of Hydroxytyrosol, an Antioxidant Found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to Protect Skin Cells from High Exposures of Ultra-Violet Radiation, From The Sun
Michelle Annicchiarico and Andrea Annicchiarico
Hydroxtyrosol, which is found in extra-virgin olive oil, contains properties to protect skin cells from DNA damage. This antioxidant has the ability to protect fibroblast cells, a type of skin cell, from ultra-violet radiation. We are testing the affect of this antioxidant when it is placed on skin cells, while being exposed to high levels of radiation.

6. Preventing bacterial resistance through compounds that inhibit bacterial communication
Arachel Abella and Monica Naguib
Arachel Abella and Monica Naguib, both 17, Grade 12 at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School, seek to prevent the bacterial resistance that develops with conventional antibiotics, by using combinations of non-antibiotic compounds to inhibit bacterial colonization and communication. With further research it is aimed that these combinations will be applied as medical equipment sterilizers, crop protectors, water purifiers, etc.

7. GABA is great! —Or is it? The effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter on human breast cancer
Trisha Alcantara, Ruth Russom, and Felicia Tan
Grade 12 students from Notre Dame High School, Trisha Alcantara, Ruth Russom, and Felicia Tan, are experimenting with Gamma Amino Butyric Acid at Dr. Alman’s Lab for SickKids. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the human central nervous system. As a team, they plan to observe its effect on human breast cancer cells over three 24 hour periods using an incubator to replicate human conditions and a trypan blue test to see how many of the breast cancer cells have died, as well as, how many have survived as a result of the treatment.

8. Testing the Effects of Tumour Metabolism Modification on Tumour Growth in the Liver Cancer Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Andrea Vucetic, Emily Xu and Simone Dew
Andrea Vucetic, 16, Emily Xu, 16, and Simone Dew, 15, Grade 11 students at Northern Secondary School, found that when a cell undergoes the change from a normal cell to a tumour cell, the process by which it creates energy changes from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolosis. By manipulating this change and the two energy systems, they hope to inhibit tumour growth and possibly revert tumour cells back into normal cells. They will be testing these effects on Hepatocellular Carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer.

9. Engineering plastic degrading yeast from a pathogenic fungus
Alina Ma and Quentin Wong
We identified the main substance from a poisonous fungus that degraded plastic.

10. Using Stem Cells to Investigate a Novel Treatment Method Targeting the Early-Stages of Diabetes
Lauren Chan
In the very early stages of diabetes, hyperfiltration occurs in the kidneys. The severity of this hyperfiltration is linked to the long-term disease outcome. I will be administering stem cells to see if I can find a novel treatment for diabetes.

11. Using publicly available data to find a suitable target that could potentially prevent heritable cancer
Edward Feng and Carrie Wei
Our project analyzes data collected by today’s scientists. The data we use indicates the gene expression of both normal cells and cells of a type of eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Gene expression simply means the process in which the DNA directs the synthesis of proteins and/or RNAs, another type of nucleic acid. We analyze this data by studying the correlation between the gene expression of the normal cells and the cancer cells. Ways to do this include studying the correlation itself through algorithms, comparing the actual gene expression, and mapping the data out and finding patterns and hubs. Hubs are proteins that have interactions with 6 or more other proteins.
Using these methods we will find many hubs that are either over or under expressed in cancer cells compared to their normal counterparts. We will then check each of these genes and the proteins they code for to see if they can be targeted with cancer while also being a viable target for today’s drugs.

12. Screening Functional Food Extracts Which Confer Protection Against Hemorrhagic Stroke
Melissa Tigert and Jenny Xiao
This project consists of testing extracts from common fruits and vegetables to uncover those that can prevent strokes. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos serving as a model for hemorrhagic strokes, will be treated with these natural extracts in order to determine those that provide defense against brain hemorrhages.

13. Green Team: A potential course of treatment for reoccurring urinary tract infections
Isabelle Labeca-Gordon
This research project attempts to develop a new and natural course of treatment for one of the most prevalent illnesses today: urinary tract infections. The compound of interest is green tea, and it’s potential in treating urinary tract infections will be examined by culturing the bacteria that causes the infection, then observing the effects of adding the green tea compound. Due to the antimicrobial properties of green tea, this research project shows promise in the fight against urinary tract infections.

14. Improving Lung Transplantation through Aptamer-Based Electrochemical Microchips
Olexandra Szewczyk and Andrea Vaz
Though there have recently been great advances in the lung transplantation process, issues continue to exist that hinder the success of these operations, including the low utilization rate of donor lungs, increased patient numbers, and the inefficient lung viability tests used presently which delay the already limited time available for optimal lung transplantation. Through the creation of an automated testing device that uses aptamers, rapid analysis of cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-8, and IL-1β, protein biomarkers that can assist in determining donor lung quality, can be conducted at the place where the organs are being harvested. Such a mechanism can result in an increase in the present five year survival rate of lung transplant recipients from 50% to 80%.

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