Team:Macquarie Australia/Safety

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Revision as of 09:12, 17 October 2010

Biosafety page for Wiki...

1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues?

When working in any laboratory there are always risks involved that need to be taken into consideration. The Macquarie University 2010 iGEM team took precautionary measures designed to minimize the risks that could not only potentially affect individual researchers but also the public and the surrounding environment.

Each individual team member completed a laboratory induction-training course and signed an acknowledgment to confirm that they had completed the course. The signed acknowledgement included safety measurements such as where any fire extinguishers and other safety equipment were located as well as the safe use of all machinery in the lab.

Additionally, a seminar was provided by the Macquarie University Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Department’s Technical Manager of Chemical Safety officer – Jenny Minard, to explain Workplace Health and Safety. Topics including the safe storage and documentation of chemicals (such as MSDS’s and risk assessment forms) were discussed in detail.

In the laboratory, we always use protective clothing such as lab coats and gloves when handling all bacterial cultures and DNA samples. The bacterial strains used in our experiments are considered non-hazardous and non-infectious and culture volumes were kept to a minimum so that any risk of spread was minimized.

No harmful chemicals were required for use in these experiments. In particular, Ethidium bromide is not used to bind DNA for agarose gel visualization because of its carcinogenic properties. At Macquarie University, the use of ethidium bromide has instead been replaced with newer staining reagents such as GelRed.

A Material Safety Data Sheet was completed for all chemicals and reagents used in the laboratory. All workspaces were kept clean to keep sterile conditions and bacterial waste material was auto-claved prior to disposal.

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

No, we do not consider the two cloned genes to be Biosafety hazards. The Bacteriophytochrome gene is a pigment-binding protein and the Heme Oxygenase gene is a metabolic enzyme. This means that we did not have to document any issues in the registry.

3. Is there a local Biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?

There is a local Biosafety committee at Macquarie University and all experiments which may involve biosafety risk and/or which involve cloning or transformation of organisms within the University need to obtain approval by the committee before proceeding.

The committee adheres to Australian Government’s legislation: Gene Technology Regulations Act, 2000 . The Biosafety committee granted approval for the 2010 Macquarie University iGEM project prior to commencement of in vivo methods such as cloning and expression (approval number REF: 5201001087EX).

Additionally, as mentioned above the Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Department’s Technical Manager of Chemical Safety officer – Jenny Minard was made fully aware of all chemicals and reagents to be used in the experiment and her approval was obtained.

For further reading on the Macquarie University Biosafety Committee please click on the links to the Macquarie University website:

Occupational Health & Safety – Biosafety:

http://web.science.mq.edu.au/intranet/ohs/hazsub/biosafety.htm#Biosafety

Biosafety Research Ethics – About the Biosafety committee:

http://www.research.mq.edu.au/for/researchers/how_to_obtain_ethics_approval/biosafety_research_ethics

For further information on the Australian legislation, in particular the Gene Regulations Act please click on the following link:

Australian Government – Office of the Gene Technology Regulator

http://www.ogtr.gov.au/

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?

As the iGEM competition is getting more popular each year the number of parts to be submitted is growing. Better documentation and standardization of parts is required.