Establishing meaningful and informed dialogue with our stakeholders is one of the overarching goals of our human practices. We therefore created a video interview series with various scientific and social stakeholders to identify the state of the current research and current ethical shortcomings. In particular, we found a clear ethical guideline as a key unmet need for shaping future application of our system to human gene editing. Based on key principles put forward by the Committee on Human Gene Editing: Scientific, Medical, and Ethical Considerations in their 2017 report on science, ethics and governance, we developed a guideline for iGEM teams to develop integrative human practices to their project design. We then evaluated our team’s efforts based on those criteria and identified strengths and areas for improvement. In particular, transparency through clear documentation and public engagement, identification of vulnerable groups and collaborations were some of our strengths while due care through the development of scenarios and economic considerations in the distribution of our technology are some areas that were touched upon but could be improved by following the recommendations made in our guide.
Throughout our project, we developed multiple hardware devices in order to assay the biological parts that we created in the lab. As we began to integrate LacILOV into a CRISPR switch and began to conceptualize upon its role in gene editing, we recognized that this application would require a tailored hardware device with unique needs compared to the previous versions employed for our experiments.
Since we were already engaging with stakeholders as a part of our human practices interview series, we decided to use this opportunity to garner feedback regarding future designs of our hardware. Ultimately, this consultation with our interviewees as well as other individuals experienced with mammalian cell cultures led us to develop v4.0 Lancelot. V4.0 Lancelot is a conceptual design intended to be compatible with gene editing applications in mammalian cells. For more technical information about Lancelot, see Hardware Based from the feedback we received, if constructed, v4.0 Lancelot would serve as a valuable device that would aid the transition of LacILOV, and tools such as our switch, into mammalian gene editing applications applications.