1) The bacteria we are using (along with their WHO classifications) are:
E. coli DH5α - biosafety level 1
P. aeruginosa (various strains) - biosafety level 2
P. putida F1 - biosafety level 1
There is little risk of infection of team members from the bacteria we build if good microbiological techniques are practiced and appropriate protective clothing worn. The bacterium, if it gets into the environment, should be self-containing - it should not stray from polystyrene as a carbon source and therefore should not be an environmental hazard. Will not be infectious to animals. Measures are taken to ensure the class 2 strains are kept within the class 2 laboratory - gloves are changed between labs, all equipment that touches a lab surface is sterilised before being removed, strains are kept in sealed containers if they need transporting to another lab.
Team members were given a safety talk on the use of flammable chemicals (toluene and acetone) in the lab by members of the chemistry department, and a COSHH form was completed for the use of toluene. These chemical should never be used near an open flame, and toluene should be kept and used within a fume cupboard. All other chemicals used have COSHH forms which have been read to understand the conditions of use, safety procedures and disposal of the chemicals.
Safe laboratory practice training was given to all members in the laboratory induction sessions, prior to the start of any lab work.
Currently there is no way the team can see of malicious misuse of the organisms the team are engineering that will cause a public danger.
2) We have currently not made any BioBrick parts or devices.
3) The project is undertaken under the guidelines set out by the University of Leicester Genetic Modification Sub-Committee. The appropriate local regulations allow cloning of genes from naturally occurring organisms and their characterisation without project specific approval. Expression of cloned genes can be carried out in the Class 2 containment laboratory of Prof Julian Ketley, under existing approvals.
4) When Biobricks have been characterised we will consider adding kill switches to all expressing organisms in case of GMO release.