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2013 UVA iGEM Safety

(May 22, 2013)Preliminary Research-Determining Projects Phase

Present project ideas involving the cultivation mini-cells do not raise immediate problems for the environment or public safety. The only potential safety issues for mini-cells that could arise are from misuse or improper use of the materials in the lab. This means that only the researchers in the lab could suffer adverse consequences (which is always a distinct possibility). Bio-safety level 1, Basic Chemical Safety, and Auto-claving training has been done as a preliminary measure by all team members and no further safety training is anticipated. There could potentially be some Bio-safety level 2 training required (discussed in detail below).

CRISPR: The CRISPR system that has been proposed could need HELA cells are used in later stages of a CRISPR project. These being from a human cell line, they would require BSL-2 clearance and training. The more pressing environmental, public and lab personnel safety issues could come from the invasin protein that allows the modified E.coli to invade eukaryotic cells. If these cells were to leave the lab, there could potentially be some unwanted modification made to eukaryotic cells

Mini-cells Proposal Safety Concerns: The advantage of mini-cells over many other cells is that they have limited lifespans and cannot proliferate due to their lack of chromosomal DNA. The associated health and safety issues for a project involving the optimization of the formation process of mini-cells (and then making this into a Bio-brick), are not likely to be an issue. If anything, mini-cells could be used for environmental remediation.