2021_NYCU_Taipei aimed to create a live biotherapeutic product (LBP) working in the human body. To turn this idea into practice, we put the following two aspects of biosafety into consideration, Biosafety in vivo and Biosafety in the environment.

Biosafety in vivo
To create a live biotherapeutic product (LBP), we designed an engineered E. coli  Nissle 1917 (EcN) to achieve this goal. EcN is the most extensively studied non-pathogenic commensal E. coli  strain [1], so we adapted this bacteria to make sure that our product is edible and safe.

The LBP we made secretes Nattokinase in the human intestine. Nattokinase is a safe enzyme which can break down the thrombosis in blood vessels. Though safe enough Nattokinase is, it still needs to be adjusted for fear of unexpected results. Hence, we designed an optogenetic system for precisely NK releasing and a chemical-induced kill switch system for bacteria killing.

Biosafety in the environment
Although our chemical-induced kill switch system can clean up our LBP in the human body, LBP is still possible to be released in the environment by excretion or improper drug disposal, which may lead to antibiotics resistance gene polluting the environment. Consequently, a temperature-induced kill switch is created for killing our LBP in the environment.

There are lots of functions in our EcN. However, the more gene inserted into the plasmid, the more burden the bacteria would have to carry. To solve this problem, we successfully condensed the chemical-induced and temperature-induced system into one, with lesser components but functional still. Visit our Design page to get detailed information!
Capsule Safety
BioVXR® acid-resistant capsules are made of HPMC (Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose), which is approved as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the US FDA. Besides, BioVXR® has been verified, with US FDA DMF No. 030931.
Laboratory Safety
Our PIs, Dr. Chuan-Hsiung Chang and Dr. Ching-Fen Chang, have given all team members biosafety and lab training before we started doing our project. Besides, lab safety is always the most reminded part whether we have meetings with our PIs. Our instructors and PIs are always with us whenever we are doing experiments in our lab. Lastly, our PIs who have led iGEM teams for over ten years are all bio-engineering experts in NYCU/NYMU. We believe that they can always support us in experimental procedures and practices.
Fig 1. Laminar flow hood
Fig 2. Emergency kit
Human Practice Safety
In the pandemic world nowadays, staying safe from COVID is the major concern of any people-related event. Throughout all our human practice activities, we have carefully followed CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines.

First, during lockdowns, we avoided in-person contact. For weekly lab meetings and the interviews with experts and enterprises, we sent our questions by email and met online via google meet and LINE app. Thanks to the Internet, we were still able to stay connected with the world!

Second, we checked the CDC’s website on a regular basis. Since the situation of disease control is dynamic, we must be informed with the up-to-date COVID-19 information.

Third, after the pandemic situation in Taiwan eased, we were able to conduct physical human practice events.

For our TFG Biology Club Education, all attending members were either vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 three days before the event. During the lecture, both the audience and the speakers were masked, and the number of participants was restricted to under 80. Also, 75% ethanol was frequently used to help us all stay coronavirus-free.

For the meeting with Dah Feng Capsule company, the body temperatures of the participants were closely monitored, and the number of attending members was reduced. Aside from the above measures, we also disinfected our hands with 75% ethanol, and stayed masked throughout the event.
[1] Bury, S., Soundararajan, M., Bharti, R., von Bünau, R., Förstner, K. U., & Oelschlaeger, T. A. (2018). The Probiotic Escherichia coli Strain Nissle 1917 Combats Lambdoid Bacteriophages stx and λ. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.00929
Authored and maintained by Team NYCU-Taipei 2021.