DOPL LOCK: Unlocking the potential of GMOs

Genetically Modified organisms (GMOs) have the potential to solve many challenges our planet is currenlty facing, but they are not widely implemented.

So, why are these solutions not used?

Problem 1


Firstly, there are biosafety concerns regarding the release of GMOs in an uncontrolled environment.

These concerns include the physical spread of the GMOs as well as the transfer of genetic material between different bacteria via Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT).

The consequences of artificial genes spreading into nature are mostly unknown, but one of the feared outcomes is that bacteria with these genes could outcompete other species and cause a disbalance in the ecosystem.

As a result, strict regulations limit the implementation of GMOs.

Problem 2


Due to the lack of data on using GMOs in the environment, regulators cannot allow extensive field research on the risks of GMOs yet.

Consequently, industry feels discouraged to develop many GMO applications, making it difficult to thoroughly assess the risks of the practical use.

As a result, scientists cannot claim sufficient safety of proposed biosafety systems, which leads back to the strict regulations on the non-contained use of GMOs.

It is a vicious cycle, where neither the side of science, industry, nor policy takes the responsibility to break this circle.


To solve both problems, we have created DOPL LOCK: a widely applicable biocontainment system based on a combination of Safe-by-Design techniques


Our design uses two interdependent plasmids, pRomeo and pJuliet. In order to drastically reduce the chance of horizontal gene transfer, both plasmids contain a different toxin, but only the opposite plasmid carries the complementary antitoxin. Thus, when one plasmid gets transferred, both toxins will not be neutralized anymore.

Just like in the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet, the two plasmids cannot live without each other.

Additionally, the antitoxins are placed under inducible promoters. This confines the bacteria to a predefined location, disallowing uncontrolled spread.

Basically, DOPL LOCK is a double plasmid lock for modified genes.


The design of DOPL LOCK is based on three values:




which essentially makes the system a reliable and robust template from the science perspective. By involving all three sides of the vicious cycle in our project, our goal is to bridge the responsibility gap between all parties and turn the vicious cycle into an upwards spiral:

The increased safety is likely to convince regulatory bodies to approve more GMO applications.

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Furthermore, we will provide legal counsel to aid companies in obtaining a license and consequently help to bridge the existing responsibility gap.

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Additionally, the wide applicability and easy implementation of the system makes it appealing for companies to use as a foundation to build their project upon.

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By solving both problems, DOPL LOCK could be the key to a clean and responsible future.

The key to developing safe solutions capturing carbon reinforcing crops sanitizing soil cleaning oil spills stopping eutrophication purifying wastewater