Biosafety And Biosecurity
Biosafety and biosecurity are related, but not identical, concepts. Biosafety programs reduce or eliminate exposure of individuals and the environment to potentially hazardous biological agents. Biosafety is achieved by implementing various degrees of laboratory control and containment, through laboratory design and access restrictions, personnel expertise and training, use of containment equipment, and safe methods of managing infectious materials in a laboratory setting.
The objective of biosecurity is to prevent loss, theft or misuse of microorganisms, biological materials, and research-related information. This is accomplished by limiting access to facilities, research materials and information. While the objectives are different, biosafety and biosecurity measures are usually complementary. Biosafety and biosecurity programs share common components. Both are based upon risk assessment and management methodology; personnel expertise and responsibility; control and accountability for research materials including microorganisms and culture stocks; access control elements; material transfer documentation; training; emergency planning; and program management.
Biosafety and biosecurity program risk assessments are performed to determine the appropriate levels of controls within each program. Biosafety looks at appropriate laboratory procedures and practices necessary to prevent exposures and occupationally-acquired infections, while biosecurity addresses procedures and practices to ensure that biological materials and relevant sensitive information remain secure.
Laboratory Practices Followed By Our Team
Some answers and open debates around these issues
Since our project is based on using the existent BioBricks for engineering devices, we do not have new safety issues in our project for researchers & students.
The reagents used in the lab do not pose a risk if standards microbiological practices are used. In addition, biological parts used to make our BioBrick are not from pathogenic or toxic sources and therefore pose no risk to the safety of team members, laboratory and general public or for environmental quality.
The potencial risk of liberating a LMO (for example, frost conditions resistance bacteria) into the environment must be observed, since GMO & LMO ecological interactions have not been tested or studied enough. (see about devices)
About safety on implicated parts in our Project:
AgrColi Project, while Nitrate Biosensor (PyeaR promoter) was developed, was made by trained students following the UoB Safety Committee guidelines and local rules stablished by the laboratories where they performed their work, approved and overseen by the iGEM supervisor Dr. Nigel Savery. Regarding Public and Environmental Safety, the E.coli’s encapsulated within the beads die when there are not appropriate conditions; since the gel they are is biodegradable, there is very little potential danger from the substances or bacteria used to either humans or animals. Finally, it has not raised exceptional safety issues in the past and complies with most bioethics regulations.
On the other hand, in Georgia Tech part (hybB+OmpA+AOX), the alternative oxidase gene (AOX) was taken from a natural plant which does not represent any threat for environmental, public or research safety, but it would cause some adverse effects when this trait is expressed on wild bacterial colonies, due to the heat, energy production and their interesting but not studied improvement of growth under low temperature conditions. Although of this, its components don’t raise any biosafety issues.
In case of LMO (Living Modified Organisms) liberation on soil, thermogenesis is just temporary because these organisms need another conditions to survive, not only an appropriate temperature, and as the faster they grow, the faster they deplete some of their sources. Anyway, to avoid this situation, mixing these traits in a part and following the standard security we shouldn’t have high risks or “bio-issues".Finally we are planning experiments to meassure the impact of the CspA promoter, in replace of the hybB promoter in the AOX expressión machine, that could lead to a significative improvement of growth and expression capabilities under cold shock situation. This effect should be carefully analyzed due to the possible extension of bacteria survival and action range. This experience will be consultate about how to realize with professional of the National Biosafety Committe (or won't be made).
Our university has neither biosafety rules nor a biosafety committee, because we do not have Biological schools in our University.
But with the emergence of Synthetic Biology, the next step should be to develop it in order to fix limitations in experimental projects and make students and professors aware of this. Nevertheless, we have the advise of The Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services; their Biosafety section will collaborate with us for lab rules and projects safety observations.
We are establishing a conversation with the Nationals professionals in Molecular Biology and Genetics, at this moment to explain what's synthetic biology, then what we are doing.
In Panama, Synthetic Biology does not have its own rules, but it follows the rules of government that dictate the basic instruments of reference to determine procedures, limitations and regulations established to manage LMO, GMO and bioethical issues.
However, in our country there is a commission that determines the biosafety guidelines, was establish in 2002, under the named as: “National Biosafety Committee for Genetically Modified Organisms and Another’s ”.
Additional Safety Issues
How we addressed these issues in project design and while conducting laboratory work
We review that the biological parts used in our device, being aware of possible damages on the safety of team members and our environment (the environment, and others). As our project is of very low risk to the safety of our team, using standard security measures avoid any incidents that may arise.
 National Institutes of Health 2009 Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HHS Publication No. (CDC) 21-1112
 Gaceta Oficial, miércoles 14 de agosto de 2002
 Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente
 Portal Nacional del Centro de Intercambio de Información sobre Seguridad de la Biotecnología (BCH) Panamá
Note: At present, we are consulting and working to establish some comittee to debate about this and other issues that raise from Synthetic Biology inside our University and the whole community.