On why we chose to work on MELASENSE

After some weeks of brainstorming our team member Biel told us why he chose to be part of iGEM. His motivation was bigger than having a new experience, more than improving his laboratory skills, he wanted to find solutions, for him and for other people.
When he was a child he suffered from a sleeping disorder. He had tremendous difficulties with falling asleep and he started fainting in school and having sick headache because of his bad sleep quality. His parents took him from doctor to doctor, but nobody could find out the reason for his trouble, although numerous tests, even CT scans were made. Finally, a sleep specialist suggested that Biel could have a dysfunctional melatonin production, but also told him that measuring his melatonin levels would be really expensive and aimless. The measurement was only done in specialized private laboratories and melatonin in Spain was exclusively allowed in dosages up until 1,9 mg . This dosage would not have helped him enough.
This negative experience let Biel to investigate further and in High School he wrote his first term paper on that topic. iGEM turned out to be the perfect way for him to tackle the problem of limited investigation and awareness. Through this competition, he met other young dedicated scientists to develop a solution for the matter of his life. iGEM is a great platform to address problems, that normally are given too little consideration in society, in collaboration with numerous other scientifically interested people.

A disbalance in melatonin is not only related to sleeping problems but also to depression and plenty of neurodegenerative diseases. Their social relevance has increased remarkably in the past decades. An easier measuring method could facilitate the investigation into the role of melatonin in this diseases and hence research could be promoted.
We also find it important to raise awareness in society to this topic. Too many people don't know how a melatonin disbalance can affect them. As Human Practice being a significant part of iGEM we had the opportunity to encourage debate about melatonin deficiency and neurological disorders.