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Safety in Canada

Canada has well established Biosafety Regulations & Guidelines to regulate research practices. These practices can be found at the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Safety in the Laboratory

All operations within the University of Waterloo, the host institution, are regulated by the University of Waterloo’s Safety Office. The regulations set out by the Canadian Biosafety Regulations & Guidelines affects the practices of the University. The University of Waterloo Safety Office, including the University of Waterloo Lab Safety Committee, has certified our host laboratory for the intended research. We follow the Biosafety Programs & Procedures set out by the Safety Office.

The team operated out of a host laboratory to ensure team members are supervised and well supported throughout the project. Our team performs all laboratory work in a host laboratory under the supervision of the Masters and PhD students as well as the host Faculty Member, Dr. Trevor Charles. The permits obtained by the parent laboratory cover the project carried out in the laboratory.

Our team members have completed the following training modules and procedures to prepare for working in the lab:
1)Workplace Violence and Harrassment Training
2)General Laboratory Safety
4)Laboratory Biosafety Training
5)Biosafety Guidelines

To see our About Our Lab Form, click here
To see our Safety Form, click here

Project Design

Before the initiation of the project, design and safety were discussed with Faculty Members, including but not limited to our Faculty Advisors.

Strain Considerations
Due to the nature of our project dealing with MRSA, a Level 2 pathogen, our design had to be modified in order to be safe for undergraduate students to safely work on the project. Thus, a Level 1 organism, Staphylococcus epidermidis (ATCC 12228) was used in the lab. Not only does this reduce the risk to students working in the lab, but it also reduces the risk of any pathogenic organisms being accidentally released into the environment. Staphylococcus epidermidis was a great alternative and met all design needs (for example, it is able to conjugate with Staphylococcus aureus)

Inducible Parts
Another design consideration was to include inducible parts so that there would me more control over the expression of newly introduced genes. If our design was to be implemented as a MRSA treatment, it would be ideal to have control over as many newly introduced parts as possible. Not only does this imply more control, it also ensures that cells containing our constructs are not unnecessarily expressing proteins constitutively which would otherwise increase their metabolic load. The gene silencing systems (CRISPRi and RNAi) have both been designed so that they are inducible by the addition of xylose. In the absence of xylose, their silencing systems are not activated

The selection of the inducing molecule was another important design consideration. A molecule that would not be harmful to patients being treated for MRSA is necessary and xylose induction was an excellent candidate.