Team:USTC-Software -


Synthetic Biology is a revolutionary field which combines several disciplines such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and engineering. However, it may cause intentional or accidental harm to humans, agriculture or the environment.

As a software project our work does not raise many safety issues typically associated with biological wet-lab project. Nevertheless we will explicitly present the answer to the four safety questions here:

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

  • researcher safety,
  • public safety, or
  • environmental safety?

A:i.Safety for researchers
The development of software requires many hours` work in front of a computer, which is not ergonomic to programmers, as working in such environment may cause much exhaust and stress. Therefore, we made a series of rules to guarantee that we can take regular breaks. Furthermore, every time our programmers go to wet labs, to work with our wet team members, we make sure that they are properly equipped and supervised by a well-trained staff.

ii.Safety for public
Because of software bugs, synthetic systems designed and produced by users based on Lachesis could be incongruous from the expectation. Hence, causing latent threat to the public. This kind of bug should be evaded through debugging test while warning users of the relevant risk.

iii.Safety for environment
We do not perform any work that put the environment at any risk.

2.Q: 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?

A: Lachesis, does not create any new BioBrick parts (or devices) in reality, and the BioBricks we used are only encoding non-hazardous genes. No safety issues would arouse as a result.

3.Q: 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?

A:Yes. School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China is aware of our project and we are working under the instruction of our instructors. ( Pro.Jiong Hong , associate professor of synthetic biology lab in USTC. Pro.Haiyan Liu, professor of computational biology in USTC.) They approve our project of not having safety problems.

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?

A:i.Yes, A lot of work is expected to be completed in dry lab for the safety issues, besides what have been finished now. For example, the censorship and caution function of danger sequence and word affiliated to software and database to prevent hidden security threat. Meanwhile, in order to prevent unanticipated danger, openness of the project can be enhanced to encourage supervision.

ii.Our software is favorable for the users' anticipation of behavior of parts, devices and systems. Its robust analysis is an important part of biosafety engineering. Therefore, our software can efficiently reduce the possibility of the security problem occurred in the test. Benefit from this, we would be one step closer in integrating with the environment.


Preventing Malign Use :

Lachesis, is ONLY for research use, no medical or diagnostic use for applications of novel BioBrick constructs generated through our software, and no military (defense or combat) application will be allowed.

Working Within the Law :

There is an international treaty that prohibits the use of biology for hostile or malign purposes. If you intend to use biology to do harm you will be breaking international law.

Many countries also have their own laws about using biology in this way. They are increasingly backed up with regulations and guidelines that are relevant to the day to day functioning of a laboratory. It is important that we are all familiar with the rules that cover our work. Whilst we are commonly taught how we should work safely, we are less often taught how to work securely.

Here we provide a gateway to details of Laws in China relevant to work with biological agents. We hoping that you will use this to make sure you know all you need to know about staying out of trouble.