1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:
o researcher safety,
o public safety, or
o environmental safety?
Since our project idea focuses on developing a heavy metal decontamination plasmid kit, it may raise partially safety issues in terms of research process and potential environmental risks. However, we already carefully stressed special attention on these issues. Most importantly, we have extremely strict guidelines and protection when doing experiments related with heavy metal such as mercury and lead. When the experiments were finished, researchers would always guarantee an effective cleaning work as well as decontamination work. Besides, our design of preserving bacterium in special condition and utilizing them in kits could decrease the probability of environmental contamination to the highest extent.
2. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues? If yes,
o did you document these issues in the Registry?
o how did you manage to handle the safety issue?
o How could other teams learn from your experience?
None of the new BioBrick part we made this year would raise any safety issue according to the current professional knowledge.
3. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
o If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?
o If no, which specific biosafety rules or guidelines do you have to consider in your country?
Yes, we have several academic professors and lab managers to help supervise our project, especially in biosafety issues. They confirm the safety of our project by checking our proposal, attending our lab meeting and making sure we do experiments properly under the matching equipments of biosafety level.
4. Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?
The risk assessment of parts and systems should be carefully conducted by each team and iGEM committee. IGEM could utilize the unique part catalog and establish the sequence database special for synthetic biology, and a screening system that available to detect dangerous sequences and homolog. Then researchers would prevent them from inadvertently action, just like what many officials do in terms of select agents to ensure the bio-security of the research institute and the public.
Particularly, we’ve proposed some solutions of horizontal gene transfer this year, hoping to be useful for future iGEM competitions. Teams could utilize gene deletion techniques, which often depend on the availability of suicide vectors. People could also assemble the target gene and another virulent gene which can destroy the new host cell once the transfer activity occurs.
The collaboration and experience sharing among teams is important. Also, workshops held in each year could invite professors specialized in bio-security to introduce the latest technologies and developments on securities issues. Official guidelines related to microorganisms and hygiene issues should be provided online, in order to help each team valuating their ideas at the stage of brain storming.
More detailed descriptions and ideas can be seen in our page of Human Practice!