Team:University College London/Safety



Lab Safety

Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:

Researcher safety

There are a number of standard lab reagents that we require the use of in our project, that are harmful on contact. These include:

Ethidium Bromide

Material Safety Data Sheet for Ethidium Bromide

Acute: Hazardous when ingested or inhaled, and is an irritant of the skin and eye. Chronic: In the long term exposure can have Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, and Teratogenic effects, and can cause Developmental Toxicity.

Congo Red

Material Safety Data Sheet for Congo Red

Acute: Hazardous when ingested of inhaled, is an irritant of the eye, and an irritant and sensitizer of the skin. Chronic: In the long term exposure can have Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and Teratogenic effects, and can cause Developmental Toxicity.

Public safety

Environmental safety

With regards to Environmental Safety there are many concerns, that are not restricted to our project, regarding the release of Genetically Modified Organisms. The end point of our project necessitates the release of genetically modified Roseobacter into the ocean, where there is no possible physical containment of bacteria. This of course raises concerns as to whether the use of living machines may integrate into and alter the local ecosystem, and potentially spread. Furthermore there are concerns that the natural process of mutation found in bacterium may have an unpredictable effect in an organism that has already been genetically modified. As of yet, the release of GMOs on this scale has not yet been approved, but we hope that this project may push that boundary.

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

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?

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

Yes - we have the Departmental Genetic Modification Safety Officer (DGMSO) and the College Genetic Modification Safety Committee, who must approve of our work before it commences. We complete risk assessments, which must meet UCL Local Rules, and we are all fully trained in lab work and monitored.

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

They are interested in our project, but have concerns about one of our Human Practice events - DIYbio - in which we proposed to carry out research into GMOs in the community. The efforts into assessing the safety of this project is ongoing, but we feel it would be a worthwhile venture. It may disperse some of the conventional worries harboured by the wider community about the use of GMO, and encourage more objective discussion. It would also bring science into the community, and we would present it in a way that makes it accessible to non-scientists.

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?