Team:AQA Unesp/Safety

iGEM AQA_Unesp


Lab work

Any kind of procedures and work inside of a lab should take as a matter of concerning the personal safety. For us, safety inside the laboratory was taken strictly serious.
The first step into biosafety is the use of the right equipment. All the Labs we used contained the correct collective protective equipments. Each of us, at the moment we got into the Lab, attended to the use of the right individual safety equipment and clothing. All of our team members who worked in the Lab followed a rigorous lab training which included a safety training, during this training they were able to learn and understand all the potential dangers and risks involved in the lab procedures.
Due the fact we work with GMO’s special procedures are done to ensure the safety of our experiments. The main concerns of the use of GMOs are the competition with natural species, adverse effects on the health of people or the environment and horizontal transfer of recombinant genes to other microorganisms. Thereby we made sure to follow the faculty biosafety internal committee guidelines for every action we took, specially in the GMOs discard. To guarantee the best results possible and avoid contamination our team members followed well established protocols for each procedure, this methodology helped us to avoid many possible experimental errors.

Safe project design

Our project is based on the use of probiotics, therefore we aim to develop a product for human consumption, which implies that:
  • Our chassis L. lactis and B. subtilis are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), what makes the manipulation and use of this microorganisms much easier and reduce the risks to our health during our experiments, ensuring the patients who consume our product will not suffer from any illness from these microorganisms;
  • Our parts will not harm any human, animals or plants (we intend to have the opposite effect);
  • We proposed a kill switch device based on light exposure for our GMO, this will guarantee that our microorganism will not grow in the wrong environment.

Product safety

At first we wished to develop a yogurt based probiotic, where our microorganism could grow and stabilize, and then within the consumption it could grow and produce insulin inside the human microbiota.
But using yogurt or other dairy product would imply in the need of a cold storage for the transportation of our product, this logistic would make our product more expensive and less safer.
As result, our team chose as final product a freeze-dried one, this way we could guarantee our microorganism will be able for consumption (without any risk of contamination) and the final product could be cheaper.

Samples submission

We faced some issues to submit our DNA samples to iGEM HQ. In Brazil, the regulatory agency Anvisa and the federal mail service Correios doesn’t have clear rules about sending DNA samples, specifically. Our samples were labeled as “contaminated biological content” and because of this we had to send our samples under the same rules used to transport biological materials, in other words, the same rules for shipping organs and biological fluids, for example. We had to fulfill several requirements, use a triple-box to guarantee the safety of our samples and pay expensive taxes. From this experience we hardly encourage future Brazilian teams to start thinking about the shipment and look for information in advance to avoid issues. Also, that would be very useful if the Brazilian teams and iGEM Safety Committee engage to contact Brazilians authorities and the regulatory agencies to make the DNA shipment easier, less complicated and not classified as a contaminated biological content.
Team: AQA_Unesp