The AcCELLerator



iGEM teams all around the world are trying to find solutions for issues that might influence not only laboratory work routine but also daily life in the near future. Due to this fact it is very important to think about possible dangers arising from synthetic biology. During our human practice we experienced a strong desire of the public for solutions that not only have biggest possible efficiency but in first line are safe. First we encountered this attitude in the broad public while we tried to explain them synthetic biology in general. (View the mindmap and Saturday Balloon Fever) They were mostly concerned about possible safety leaks.

After this experience we decided to take a look at what the experts of ethics and law are thinking about synthetic biology and therefore we attended the symposium: Risk of misuse in biology - biosafety relevant research between freedom, progress and responsibility /Freiburg 2014/06/03. Here the same, most of the speakers were concerned about safety and security issues regarding this relatively new field of research.

For this reason we wanted to start Link-It - gaining acceptances by overcoming fears. It is our strong believe that better education of the public alongside with identifying, occupying and minimizing the possible risks of our own project would benefit the general attitude towards synthetic biology. The linking of safety and security is, in our opinion, not only possible but mandatory. With people thinking that synthetic biologist around the world are creating Frankenstein it is almost impossible to build a trusted platform of sound debate. The spirit of iGEM is to perform projects that may be applicable in daily life. It is utopic to think that this will become real if we are not starting now to involve and educate the public. The shortcoming of such practices can be seen in modern gene technologies were a lot of applications might be possible and beneficial but the backing of the public is, especially in Europe not existent. This will also be limitations for research and application. You can have best ideas and lab-safety but will not be able to bring them to the market because of lacking support and fear from the public.

For a general overview we identified possible risks in our lab and in synthetic biology in general. Firstly we concentrated on general lab safety.

Environment Public/Humans
Research and production Safety risk by unintentional release from the laboratory Safe laboratory work


Danger of uncontrolled dispersal

Danger for health especially for medical therapeutically application 

General Wet Laboratory Safety:

We worked in a BSL-1 laboratory, so the general safety measurements for such a facility were kept upright at any given time point. It was absolutely mandatory to wear protective clothing (labcoat, gloves, and closed shoes). Coordinated and thoroughly work in the laboratory is essential for establishing and maintaining safety standards in our wet lab with minimized risks for everybody working there. Besides receiving the mandatory safety training we divided the laboratory in work areas for different parts of our project/steps in the laboratory work. View our Safety Form for more information.

Besides the distribution in the main laboratory where cloning and gel electrophoresis took placea large part of our wet lab was located in the cell culture. Working sterile under cell culture fume hood benefitted the safe handling of our system and demagnified the risk of parts escaping the laboratory. To further prevent contamination of the environment we autoclaved all our S-1 contaminated waste. This altogether ensured a safe environment to work in.