tisdag 5 april 2011

Safety questions from iGEM Uppsala 2010

Safety questions from iGEM 2010. Four of us stayed up til 3am in a hotel room in Hyatt Cambridge to finish them. As iGEM Headquarter informed us, we forgot to submit them. Luckily they still gave us a bronze for breaking one of the easiest iGEM rules.

  1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:
    • researcher safety?

During the design process of this project, it was decided that the project idea involved only well-characterized, documented bio-bricks, and non-pathogenic, well-studied bacteria strain. No mutagenic experiments for making new bio-bricks and no pathogenic bacteria strain were ever involved. In the laboratory where the project was carried out, strict safety rules were employed for ensuring the well-being of the project participants. The rules include usage of lab coats, gloves, goggles and other necessary safety equipments. All the lab works were conducted under the supervisions of senior researchers. The project students were not allowed to work alone or without supervisions.

    • public safety?

No pathogenic bacteria strains or virulent genes were involved either as precursor material, intermediate or final product. The laboratory where the project carried out is a closed environment. Safety rules were painstakingly followed to prevent the dispersion of, and to ensure the destruction of any lab waste. Autoclave was used to prevent any GMO from leaking out from the lab.

    • environmental safety?

No mutations were designed in any of the constructs. The cells which incorporated the artificial plasmid do not secrete toxins as a result. They were destroyed to prevent any form of leakage into the environment. The bacteria strains used in the project possess no selection advantage over their wild type counterparts, other than antibiotics resistance. Although engineering bacteria metabolism through editing antibiotics resistance is a conventional feature.

  1. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues? If yes,

There are no safety issues with our BioBricks. The constructed BioBricks consist of well-characterized parts without any intended mutations. They are only capable of expressing naturally occurring gene activators, repressors and harmless fluorescent proteins. All laboratory procedures were carried out under general microbiology and molecular biology lab regulations.

  1. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?

In Uppsala University there is a bio-ethics group. One of the advisors, Daniel Camsund has taken a bioethics course taught by this group. Every stage of the project was closely monitored and approved by Daniel Camsund. Furthermore, under the guidance of Dr. Thorsten Heidorn, the project group complied with the established and applied biosafety regulations of Sweden.

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