Team:UCLouvain/awards/Best therapeutic

 Best therapeutic project

Our approach aims at being simple, targeted and precise, but at the same time it can have a global impact and touch also the poorest countries. The CRISPR-Cas9 system is the the future of medicine as it is highly customizable and efficient. We focused our project on one particular problem although our proof of concept can be extended to basically any pathogenic bacteria able to accept the plasmid we engineered!

At first, our project was designed to neutralize bacteria that multiply in stagnant water. We have conceived this work for a first test on Salmonella. We could then consider targeting other pathogenic bacteria the same way like V. cholerae and multi-resistant nosocomial bacteria. Apart from this situation, we could make a prototype to render inactive the nosocomial bacteria that become resistant in the hospital environment. Similarly, we could create a protective film for the prostheses before their implantation.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest problems in today’s medical world. With our technique, we offer a potential new treatment against these multiresistant pathogens. This idea represents a new hope… by provoking a war between bacteria… or, if you prefer, a BactWars.

Our therapeutic project is not static, it is dynamic and it opens up the way for new improvements, ideas, applications. We created a therapeutic tool, now it is time to use it the best way possible! It is a new idea, but it is made of bacterial tools that we already use. It is very specific but it can have a global impact and touch a large number of people, especially in the poorest areas and it can be effective in a short time.

It would be the ideal solution in Cholera Outbreaks which are normally sudden and very widespread! The low cost of our solution would make it interesting for those areas, and could be a great alternative to chlorine tablets currently used for water purification. Even though their cost is low, they are often used the wrong way and their effects don’t last enough time.

Our main goal was to fight Antibiotic Resistance, but the plasmidic CRISPR-Cas9 system is so efficient that we can imagine to target almost anything!

These are just our words, but our idea convinced many researchers around us and we have established to great agreement for testing our system, namely:

Royal Military Hospital Queen Astrid, Brussels


Our first and most important partnership! We first met them in February when our idea was a phage system as a therapeutic tool. After various brainstormings we decided to keep the Antibiotic Resistance as our main main topic but we switched to a plasmidic vector!
Jean-Paul Pirnay has always been a useful advisor. He’s a leading scientist in Europe for phage therapy and manages the microbiology lab of the military hospital. He took part to various amazing researches, including PhagoBurn.
The military hospital has a wide bacteria collection and our partnership with them will allow us to test our system on their strains, especially V. Cholerae!
We already have achieved our proof of concept!
Our next step: demonstrate the inter-species conjugation!
We are excited to cooperate with the military hospital and their support is a big acknowledgement of our hard work!

CHU Namur Mont-Godinne


This is a university hospital linked to our home university. In September, Pierre Bogaerts, from the microbiology lab, decided to test our system on his bacterial strains! We are very excited for this upcoming experience. The proof of concept was achieved, now it’s time to make it real!
The support of the hospital is very important for us, as the medical application is the ultimate goal of our project!

Last but not least the humanitarian journey in Benin, West Africa made by our colleague Sara, medical student and iGEMer, made us clear how important is to keep working and looking for new solutions! We saw with our eyes what bacterial infection can do when we are not prepared! We want to change it!

All these opportunities were a big plus for our project and they are the confirmation that it will not stop after the Jamboree! Boston will be a starting point for new exciting developments!


  • [1] Lessler, J., Moore, S. M., Luquero, F. J., McKay, H. S., Grais, R., Henkens, M., … Azman, A. S. (2018). Mapping the burden of cholera in sub-Saharan Africa and implications for control: an analysis of data across geographical scales. The Lancet, 391(10133), 1908–1915.
  • [2] V. T. Nair, D., Venkitanarayanan, K., & Kollanoor Johny, A. (2018). Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella in the Food Supply and the Potential Role of Antibiotic Alternatives for Control. Foods, 7(10), 167.