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

– researcher safety,

– public safety, or

– environmental safety?

We operate on the high safety standards given by the university, and also we avoided use of any highly toxic, acidic, carcinogenic or in other ways dangerous substances. Our project is mainly based on producing a toolbox of biological parts not on creating genetically modified organisms. The only organisms used are standard E.coli strains for plasmid amplification and HEK 293 Cells for proof of concept experiments. Furthermore, our finished biobricks are not capable of increasing the pathogenicity of any of these organisms and as lab organisms they are not capable of living outside artificial laboratory conditions.

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?

No, our produced biobricks are not dangerous as they are, they can only be used to form gene modulating enzymes and a normal scientific usage holds no safety issues.

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?

Yes, at our university we have the “Stabsstelle Sicherheit” as controlling authority on everything that has to do with safety. Because our project is not about creating genetically modified organisms, but creating single enzymes that don’t increase pathogenity of host organisms, there where no concerns about safety.

Also, we operate on strict safety guidelines in our lab as dictated by state authorities.

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?

In our lab, we were especially concerned with carcinogenity, because most threats in this area are invisible and you will notice their effects when it is already to late. To protect our team we banned ethidum bromide completely and used next generation DNA stains like gel red and midori green. As an additional measure, we only used nitrile gloves and while cutting gels under ultraviolet light, only the person cutting the gel stayed in the room wearing uv protective gear and face protection.