Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of researcher safety, public safety or environmental safety?
Our project doesn’t involve any risk beyond the ones that are usual in a laboratory when manipulating biological material such as non pathogenic bacteria. Measures will be taken in order to assure the students’ safety while working with ethidium bromide stained tanks in electrophoresis, as well as avoiding any direct contact with the bacterial cutures, which are the two main risks when researching in a laboratory. Since we’re not using any pathogenic organism, and the transformations made aren’t either, there should be no real problem in case of them being accidentally released into the environment,something that will be strictly controlled.
Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?
We haven’t created any new BioBrick yet, but we don’t plan to use or create any BioBrick related to pathogenesis, though some substances produced by the modified organisms might be considered toxic for humans, but just like the majority of the ones in the registry (only hazardous at very high concentrations).
Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
We’re not aware of the existence of any biosafety group in our university, but we intend to abide by the regulations in force promulgated by the European Union, such as the Directive 2009/41/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms.
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 consider that the current safety rules concerning the competition and the manipulation of the different parts are sufficiently strict.
Would the materials used in your project and/or your final product pose...
a. Risks to the safety and health of team members or others in the lab? None, when used properly. This means all the students know how everything works and how to act when manipulating each material: when to use gloves, which ones to use, when protection against UV radiation is needed, how to remove biological remains, etc. Besides, hazardous chemicals have been replaced when possible by others with less or no toxicity, i.e. the classical DNA staining ethidium bromide was displaced from the beginning by RedSafe, which offers the same sensitivity in agarose gels but without any mutagenic or toxic effects for health.
b. Risks to the safety and health of the general public if released by design or accident? Some of our chemicals could cause some irritation in direct contact with human skin but this would be highly improbable, since all the disposal waste undergoes a process of decontamination before being released outside the laboratory. Our bacterial strains aren't pathogenic, they only have some basic, controlled antibiotic resistances. The worst that could happen would be a minor infection, but it's a highly improbable case.
c. Risks to environmental quality if released by design or accident? The probabilities of our strains surviving outside the laboratory are scant, since they will probably won't be competitive enough. With regard to the chemicals, they're all quite harmless, being dangerous only at very high concentrations, with which we don't work at the laboratory.
d. Risks to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups or states? It is difficult to imagine a possible damage derived from a malicious use of our materials, they're not potentially dangerous.
Specifically, are any parts or devices in your project associated with (or known to cause): - pathogenicity, infectivity, or toxicity? No - threats to environmental quality? No - security concerns? No
Under what biosafety provisions will / do you operate?
a. Does your institution have its own biosafety rules and if so what are they? No
b. Does your institution have an Institutional Biosafety Committee or equivalent group? No
c. Will / did you receive any biosafety and/or lab training before beginning your project? Beside our training in the laboratory during the practical lessons in our respective degrees, when we started working we also received some pieces of advice from the staff, teachers and instructors, with regard to safe waste disposal, disinfection, how to use the lab equipment and what to do in dangerous situations, such as fire, short-circuit, etc.
d. Does your country have national biosafety regulations or guidelines? Spain has signed the international agreement Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/)