Team:St Andrews/project/safety


St Andrews from East Sands

University of St Andrews iGEM 2010


The Saints

University of St Andrews iGEM 2010

Our first year at iGEM!

Safety Concerns

Our initial project aim was to express a single protein, CqsA, the cholera autoinducer synthase. CAI-1, the cholera autoinducer is known to cause a population wide shift to avirulence in virulent strains of V. cholerae. It is currently thought not to be of significant concern to researcher, public or environmental safety. Not all of the possible effects of CAI-1 on every organism are known however, and standard laboratory safety procedures should be followed to avoid environmental release, for example to autoclave waste before disposal. That said, the strains we used were unlikely to survive in anything but controlled laboratory conditions. Other quorum sensing parts we have used, most belonging to the Lux quorum sensing system are relatively well understood and not expected to pose any hazards.

We aimed to create registry standard parts proving a concept that could then be applied to produce a probiotic that would confer resistance to cholera. This would require ingestion of our genetically modified bacteria by humans and does raise safety concerns due to possible unforeseen effects. This has been investigated in mice, but as a small scale study, additional animal trials would need to be carried out before clinical trials in humans began.

(F Duan, J C March (2010) Engineered bacterial communication prevents Vibrio cholerae virulence in an infant mouse model. PNAS 107-25)

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires a risk assessment to be carried out for a genetically modified organism (GMO) to be created. Our work was covered by our supervisor's GMO form but to guide us in considering all of the safety aspects of our project we filled in one ourselves. GMO Form