Application-specific decisions

We chose cell-free paper based gene circuits to employ our sensor for real world applications. Our main consideration was to minimize biosafety related risk factors. In our safety risk analysis we considered following criteria:

  1. Flammability and corosive level of chemicals used
  2. Biological agents used
  3. Worst-case scenario of the product disposed in a wrong manner
  4. Localizing the risk and preventing the spread

Experiment-specific decisions

We used a non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli (DH10B) in all our experiments, which also served as our main chassis organism. Despite it being non-threatening, our work did involve modifying the molecular mechanism of E.coli, therefore we made sure to conduct all our work in a laboratory space with the appropriate biosafety level requirement as well as following proper sterile techniques when handling microorganisms. Since our lab members had extensive experience working in laboratories, in addition to attending the university mandated biosafety training course prior to working, we had no safety related issues arise during the course of the project.

Although none of the techniques or reagents we used are entirely uncommon, we did use Gold (III) Chloride for our assays which isn’t a common chemical used or found in many laboratories. According to the SDS, the substance is classified as Toxic and Corrosive under WHMIS, with the potential to cause skin burns, corrosion and eye damage. Before using the chemical in a common lab, with other researchers around, we clarified it’s usage with the lead lab manager, Endang Susilawati. Under her advice, and with the correct PPE which included the use of a dust mask, we worked with the substance in a contained environment under a fume hood with no issues to us or our fellow researchers.

Shipment of plasmids

We have received transportation of dangerous goods training given by the Environment and Health Safety Department at University of Toronto and followed the local guidelines.