Team:Grenoble/Human Practice/BSS


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For the moment our BSS looks like <a href="" target="_blank">this</a>.
For the moment our BSS looks like <a href="" target="_blank">this</a>.

Revision as of 00:55, 26 September 2012

iGEM Grenoble 2012


Design of the BioBrick Safety Sheet (BSS)

Synthetic biology is a new and emerging discipline with a lot of potential but also with an important part of risk. But unlike other disciplines such as chemistry there is no standard and reliable way of assessing risk!

Where does every component of our Biobrick come from? What was its initial function in nature? Should we fear a particular interaction with another component? Has a particular mutation been observed? These are the question that each biologist has asked himself at least once but couldn’t find an answer because it’s too complicated and exhausting!

To release your pain the Grenoble Team has found a solution: What about a new reliable and universal way of storing all these information and including them in the registry part? Thus every team and every biologist would be able to have access to these information and even add his own observations and experimental results to enlarge the database.

To sum up, the Biobrick Safety Sheet includes mainly two sections:
  • A section where we specify the biobrick , the origin and the initial function of each component in nature (promoter, rbs, coding sequence…)

  • A section that lists: the random interactions we encountered during the construction, the results of at least one experiment that considers the environment in which the biobrick will evolve and other experiments we think it’s important to consider in order to assess the biobrick risk level.

So, if every iGEM team cooperates and accepts to fill the BSS, over years, the iGEM community will have access to a large biobricks database with the possible interactions for each biobrick in different environments. This will help have a deeper idea of the biobrick potential risk and thus enhance safety in synthetic biology.

Furthermore this BSS was also designed to help teams communicate with other laboratories during their projects. Indeed what has to be done when there is a lack of information is to contact experts in biology and synthetic biology. They may have a deeper point of view than iGEM team members. This can be an advantage for the project as well as the improvement of the safety. But if we want to have fruitful links with other partners, we have to put in place an efficient and understandable communication system for both parts. And the BSS was mainly designed for this.

Other teams opinion about BSS

As we want the BSS structure to be clear and concise. We tried early to contact as many iGEM teams as possible from all over the world in order to have feedbacks about the idea and the possible improvements for the BSS. For this purpose we used matchmaker click here by posting a request. We’ve also sent an e-mail to all the European teams.

You can find below the list of the teams that consented to give feedbacks.

We've already had feedbacks about the BSS from Virginia, Edinburgh, Groningen and Paris iGEM Teams

What appears is that many other teams think that the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, gives already many information that the BSS also gives. Thus it is considered by many teams as another way to store the biological information. What was blamed , is that there is no link between what already exists and this new sheet. Moreover some of those teams said that this BioBrick Safety Sheet could be seen as a competitor to the preexisting Registry…

Because of these feedbacks we managed to revise our project. Indeed our goal is not to set up a concurrent system, but more to improve what already exists.

Helped by other teams, we saw that it would be an utopia to have teams using directly the BSS. That is why we worked on a way to link our idea to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. A way to do it would be to add another tab on BioBrick webpage that could be named Safety. In this part all the information about the way the BioBrick has been used environments in which it would evolve would be listed. In addition, drawbacks and bad effects that appeared would be explained.

But in the same time, it seems practical to keep the sheet available for teams, if they need to communicate on what they are doing or using. We should not forget that the website is free for everyone. Therefore other people and especially non biologists can have access to the information. This tool would be then a way of improving the comprehension of synthetic biology for the uninitiated.

Why is this important?

This approach is important because a lot of projects intend to use microorganisms outside laboratories. it is essential to make research on protection means. But it is even more necessary to know which hazards we should expect. Therefore having information on what would happen makes protections more efficient.

Add to this, if we take a look at the number of iGEM teams that have competed since 2006, we notice that it is increasing steadilyand if the raise keeps the same we should have almost 350 teams in 2018.

Considering that each team uses around 10 BioBricks for their project, the number of BioBricks used each year would easily reach 3500.

Thus, it would become more and more difficult to find the required information about the risk assessment.

Last but not least biological systems are more and more complicated and need even more BioBricks. The number of BioBricks used would probably exceed the expected value.

For all these reasons, it is high time to work on the way to assess the risk. And in this purpose the first thing to do is to store the useful information in the clearest way. Our idea is then to link the BSS with the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

A project linked with other iGEM Teams: collaboration

Thanks to the partnership with iGEM Paris Bettencourt team, we had more information about the point of view of another iGEM Team. Moreover we discovered that our idea is complementary to their work. While they are trying to design tools to improve the safety and work on a way to quantify the biological risk, we are dealing with the information required to assess the risk. Our project is the base of the risk analysis.

The structuring of the information would be great for their project because by designing tools, it is also important to know if they would be relevant. Thus our project is in accordance with what is currently done.

Their feedbacks finally lead to a whole collaboration with Paris Bettencourt. Indeed, once the first skype session organized, we kept contact and could give them feedbacks about their own project. We also had the opportunity to move to Paris on Sunday the 16th and participate to the debate they organized about a possible regulation of GMOs use. Click here if you want more details about the event.

Improvement of the project and of the BSS

What was underlined during the presentation of this BSS is that the main sheet is turned to the experiment aspect, whereas it is also important to focus on the theoretical aspect. Therefore we added a part in which it is asked to think about what possible interactions between BioBricks could occur.

If this is correctly done, the perspective would probably lead the project to the creation of a software that would collect every possible interaction.
For the moment our BSS looks like this.