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Home Team Project BioBricks Modeling Notebook Safety

Safety considerations are very important when conducting any research with recombinant DNA technologies to control or prevent possible adverse outcomes of the research. When designing our project, we asked ourselves if our project ideas would raise safety issues in terms of researcher's safety, public safety or environmental safety. While it is not necessary to steer completely clear of research agendas that might pose safety risks because of their possible positive benefits, it is important to account for those risks by implementing safety protocols to protect the health of the researchers, public and environment.
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Because no organism or biobrick part we used is from an infectious organism, we use no human cell lines or cultures, no biological toxins or toxin coding regions and do not release our organisms into the environment for testing, the safety considerations of our project are less than the projects of many other teams.

Our project is done in two phases. First, the construction of genetic constructs through biobrick parts in DH5alpha bacteria and Second, the transformation of the completed constructs into trp- FY4 yeast for intrabody library screening and production. While some strains of E. coli are more suitable to recombinant DNA work because of genomic deletions that make them less stable in the wild, the DH5alpha strain is important to our work because of its very high transformation efficiency. Because this strain is slightly more hardy, certain safety protocols have been instituted to prevent escape of biological agents into the environment: All petri plates deposited in biohazard waste collection which is incinerated before disposal, all liquid cultures are kept under 5 mL and are combined with 10% bleach and left for 30 minutes to kill all biological agents before disposal. The trp- FY4 strain of yeast is unable to survive in the wild due to its incapacity to synthesize tryptophan, but the same safety procedures are still used.

The inherent danger of the genetic constructs in our system is minimal. The constructs entailing the most thought of biological safety are the gene expression control elements, the diversified iDab library constructs, which affect transcription of the yeast genome. Because these constructs are only active in the genome of the organism with Lex operators, it is very unlikely that even direct human exposure to yeast translating these proteins will have any effect on the cellular metabolism. Regardless, safety protocols for dealing with recombinant organisms are observed including gloves worn at all times in the laboratory and proper disposal of biological cultures as previously described.