The iGEM organisation tries to determinate the real and/or likely impacts of our projects, parts and experiments on environment for example. All these implications are raised under the generic term of Biosafety . Biosafety is defined as the prevention of unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release according to the World Health Organisation.
To make an estimation of these impacts, we have to fill this questionnary for the iGEM HQ.

1/ Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of: Researcher safety ? Public safety ? Environmental Safety?

The production of PHB raises an issue in terms of environmental safety. This can be used as an alternative energy to face the future lack of oil. However the extraction of the drops includes the use of a large amount of organic solvents, whose production is based on oil and which pollute a lot.
Furthermore, its use for the production of proteins can be a potential risk as well for the researcher, the public and the environment , depending which protein is over-expressed.

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

If yes, did you document these issues in the Registry? How did you manage to handle the safety issue?

How could other teams learn from your experience?

The thermoregulation of the drop of PHB includes the use of the Curli promoter. This promoter make E.Coli do biofilms.
A biofilm is an agragate of microorganism which adhere to each other and to a surface. It has the properties to be very resistant when it’s fixed on a biological surface and it can hardly be removed. It raises the issue of the biofilms and how removed them.

By respecting the Good Laboratory Practices concerning micro-organisms, we manage to handle this safety issue. There is no need to develop any specific rules to circumscribe safety risks with this part.

The phasin-intein part is just an intermediate allowing the purification of the proteins. It doesn't involved a direct risk but we cannot control the aims of the people using our parts .

3/ Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?

If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?

If no, which specific biosafety rules or guidelines do you have to consider in your country?

INSA Lyon doesn't have a biosafety group. But with the emmergence of synthetic biology it could be interesting to develop it in order to fix limits in experimental project and make aware students and professors.
In France, synthetic biology doesn't have its own rules but should follow the ones of the bioethic and the GMO. However, the European Union begins to organize meetings and table-round to develop a legal framework.

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?

It may be safer if each lab involved in the competition was checked. It can prevent some risks if the labs are conformed for research in synthetic biology, especially in the waste treatment, in order to prevent some environmental risks. Moreover, it should be a good prevention to make sure that the teams are aware about the objectives and the impacts of their project in order to avoid public risks. One issue can be to make students and advisors fill an ethical form when their project is ready. Maybe it can make everyone realize the type of risks linked with SynBio.
Furthermore, the IGEM should ask each team to choose a person in charge of the biosafety. This person would write a precise report about the team behaviour.

The parts in the registry are in free access. These DNA sequences have been designed by someone and often don’t look anymore like the initial sequence that can be find in the databases. It can be safer to protect this intellectual property by limiting the access of the sequences in the registry to iGEM participants.

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