Team:Imperial College London/Human Overview
We consulted numerous experts in various fields to ensure that the design of the AuxIn system respects all relevant social, ethical and legal issues. One module of our system, Gene Guard, is a direct result of brainstorming around the issues involved in the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Although we have only reached the proof of concept stage, we have put a lot of thought into how AuxIn may be implemented as a product and the legal issues that would be involved.
To ensure that our implementation strategies are realistic we consulted experts early in the design process. We consulted social scientists; held interdisciplinary human practices panel discussions; met with environmental scientists, plant experts and people running charities in areas affected by desertification.
We realise that the work we have done on our project is a proof of concept and is only the first step towards implementation. However, we have devised a plan, steps of which this project would have to go through to finally become implemented; we have laid out the concept that implementation would follow.
Many applications of iGEM projects can only be realised if safe release into the wild is possible. However, "kill switches" can never be 100% effective. In response to these issues, we designed Gene Guard, a novel containment device that prevents horizontal gene transfer. This device takes previous "kill switches" one step further in that it prevents the spread of the genetic information itself rather than that of the engineered bacteria.