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Safety Questions

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

  • researcher safety,
    • There are no hazardous chemicals that we used in the laboratory except for EtBr that we used in a special room for gel visualization and some buffers used in commercially available kits.
  • public safety, or
    • Since all the organisms used in the wetlab are destroyed after they are done working with they pose no danger for public safety. We use E.coli strain DH5alpha which is easy to kill and all the student members who work in the wetlab are very well trained to make sure there is no unwanted contamination. This year we are also working on a kill switch which, if works properly, will eliminate any bacteria whereas they will not be able to survive without IPTG present. Also we want to clone the final circuit into cyanobacteria which is not as harmful for public as E.coli.
  • environmental safety?
    • As mentioned above a kill switch will be available in the organism which will initiate cell death when the cell is in an environment that does not contain enough IPTG.

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

CODH(carbonmonoxyde dehydrogenase )enyzme is isolated from Mycobacterium bovis BCG strain. We have followed all the safety procedures during the isolation process from the cells we had and we successfully isolated the DNA without any problems that will raise safety issues.

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?

In our university we have a biosafety and ethical research center which monitors the safety of our projects. The members of METU Biology department are also members of National Biosafety Coordinating Committee. We are able to consult to them whenever it is necessary. Also biosafety is a very important subject for METU Department of Biology, whereas the student members are very well trained in the subject. Also the projects that we decided to work on are presented to many people in the area in order to see if they are of any concern for the biosafety regulations. All the procedures that are used in the lab are also approved procedures that are used by these people mentioned above.

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?

We believe using specific strains designed specifically for labwork will be safer. It is possible to genetically modify the organisms so that, they are not able to grow outside the lab environment. There probably is not a way to build some biobricks that can be modified in order to make them safer since their function will be the cause of safety issues.