Team:Ionis Paris/Projectsafety

Safe Project Design

Choosing a non-pathogenic chassis

For our project, we chose to use chassis lab strains of  E. coli bacteria (DH5a and BL21 strains). As non-pathogenic to humans, these E. coli strains belong to Risk Group 1 and thus require only basic precautions. We chose these organisms for convenience reasons: their genomes are entirely sequenced (we knew that the sigma factor required for our transcription factor biosensor was in the bacteria), they are easy to grow and safe to handle.

Choosing parts that will not harm humans/animals/plants

We designed our project in a way that it should not include parts that could be harmful to humans, animals or plants. Our project involves a XylR transcription factor and a luciferase reporter and neither of these parts are known to have safety issues.

Biological Containment

Our project is designed for a use in everyday life which is why we were particularly aware of safety issues. The main risks we have identified can be linked to the use of biological elements. We planned to use genetically engineered bacteria and therefore an ethical dimension had to be taken in account.
As those modified bacteria will be used in the field, our biggest challenge was to safely contain them. To adress this problem, we developed a containment method that will allow us to separate the bacteria from the environment. The container will be an enclosed device that allows air to be sampled and presented to the bacteria while preventing their accidental release (see Hardware). The first BioBrick tests were done in the laboratory under simulated environmental conditions. In the meantime, our Engineering team was developing a containment method similar to an airlock that would allow an efficient sampling of the air with no bacteria escaping the collection tube. However no field tests were made during the iGEM competition.
Although our biggest challenge comes from biology, we also identified a mechanical risk in the drone. There is the possibility that the drone will have an accident. We thought of a security system for this event that will allow us to handle such accident without harm and pollution (see Hardware).

Thinking about the future

We are also aware of the issues caused by the use of a drone in urban areas and the problems of selling our system to the general public. These issues motivated us to think of an economic model based on the sale of a service, not a product. In this way, our system will only be use by trained person belonging to our company and we will sell only data.