Team:SYSU-China/page project safety


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Safety-Sun Yat-sen Univ.



1. 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?

b. Risks to the safety and health of the general public if released by design or accident?

c. Risks to environmental quality if released by design or accident?

d. Risks to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups or states?

Please explain your responses (whether yes or no) to these questions.

Specifically, are any parts or devices in your project associated with (or known to cause):

- pathogenicity, infectivity, or toxicity?

- threats to environmental quality?

- security concerns?

    From the aspect of the project itself, no materials used by the iGEM 2011 SYSU-China or any final product would raise any safety issue in terms of researchers, the public or the environment.

    First, the bacteria we are working on are Escherichia coli BL21 and DH5α,the non-virulent mutants of Escherichia coli, which are considered to be non-pathogenic and unlikely to survive in host tissues and cause disease. These are confirmed by R.M. La Ragione and M.J. Woodwad in their paper An investigation into the pathogenic properties of Escherichia coli strains BLR, BL21, DH5a and EQ1 (

    Second, since several years' operation of the two kinds of E.coli in the labs and no virulence against human has been reported, we believe that these strains are harmless to team members or others in the lab. Except to that, team members or others in the lab are protected appropriately, such as wearing gloves and masks, and this also reduces the risks that they are infected or get other hurts in the lab.

    Third, even if our bacteria are released from the lab by design or accident, they will not pose any risk to the safety and health of the general public, because as we mentioned above, they are the non-virulent mutants of Escherichia coli, and are non-pathogenic and unlikely to survive in host tissues and cause disease. As a result, they are safe to the general public. In terms of the environment, our bacteria are difficult to survive in the natural environment, because they need enough nutrition in which the compositions are in accordance with an appropriate proportion. Since they are difficult to survive, they are unlikely to cause safety problems to the environment. As for the malicious misuse of these bacteria, it is difficult to get the guarantee that they are doomed to be safe. Basically, as long as they are not transformed maliciously, they will not be able to cause the safety issues even if they are maliciously misused.

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

a. Did you document these issues in the Registry?

b. How did you manage to handle the safety issue?

c. How could other teams learn from your experience?

    No biobricks made by the SYSU-China team will raise any safety issues. The biobricks, such as recA, recN, cheZ, trkD and ag43, are all the natural parts of E.coli in natural environment, and commonly used for laboratory operation. Their function and functional mechanism are clearly known, and they are not associated with pathogenicity, infectivity, or toxicity, nor will they cause threats to environmental quality. Moreover, cheZ and ag43 are standard biobricks provided by iGEM authority, so the safety of these biobricks can be guaranteed.

3. Under what biosafety provisions will / do you operate?

a. Does your institution have its own biosafety rules and if so what are they? Provide a link to them online if possible.

b. Does your institution have an Institutional Biosafety Committee or equivalent group? If yes, have you discussed your project with them? Describe any concerns or changes that were made based on this review.

c. Will / did you receive any biosafety and/or lab training before beginning your project? If so, describe this training.

d. Does your country have national biosafety regulations or guidelines? If so, provide a link to them online if possible.

    First, the SYSU_China team members conform strictly to the established safety rules in the lab (

    Second, In our university, Biosafety Committee of Sun Yat-sen University is responsible for monitoring the safety of all the research activities on the campus. Their regulations are stipulated according to the WHO Laboratory biosafety manual, which is also conformed to by our country ( Before our team started the program, we have talked about the safety issues of the whole project. They were really concerned about the radiation-related experiments, and emphasized that these experiments must be operated by the professional technician. In addition to that, they also requested that all procedures conducted in this project should be performed according to the rules stipulated by WHO. On the whole, they think about our project as safe. With the surveillance of the Biosafety Committee of Sun Yat-sen University and the cautious operation of our members, the project will be harmless to the researchers, the public or the environment.

    Third, each team member was required to attend a pre-lab training led by graduate students and advisors both on experimental skills and safety instructions before he or she actually started to do the iGEM program in the lab. They trained us how to operate the fundamental experiments, and taught us the basic safety rules in the lab, such as how to use the toxic reagents. During the program, we wear gloves properly and disinfect tubes and plates after use. When it involves the radiation-related experiments, the operation will be carried out by the technician with radiation-usage permission.

4. OPTIONAL QUESTION: Do you have other ideas on how to deal with safety or security issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?

    We suggest that the safety information of any part used in the iGEM competition, especially its functions, should be investigated clearly through literature search before the usage. If the part has any intention to raise safety issues, the iGEM team should refuse to use it and choose other alternatives. In addition to that, iGEM teams should submit the safety report with their biobricks part to the iGEM authority, describing the safety issues of the biobricks part, which should also be examined by a professional third party. Thus the high-risk biobricks or parts with potential biosafety problems will be identified and abandoned before submitting. Through this way can the parts, devices and systems be made much safer. With above measures, the safety of the biobricks submitted can be guaranteed.

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From the 2011 iGEM team SYSU-China (2011)

Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

Address: 135# Xingang Rd.(W.), Haizhu Guangzhou, P.R.China

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