On this page you can read about our safety consideration for Psiloaid.

General safety

All iGEM team members received general safety and security training. Team members working in the laboratory received, before the start, additional specialised safety and security training from the occupational health and safety representative of our department. While working in the laboratory, the laboratory team was supported and supervised by our iGEM team associated lab technician, who has many years of experience in the field.

Safety while working in the laboratory

The safety and security sessions included good microbial techniques, biosafety equipment, disinfection and sterilization procedures, emergency procedures, transportation rules, physical and personnel biosecurity, and containment and sterile conditions in the laboratory. Currently, non-pathogenic E. coli strains (Top10 and ER2566) were used to minimize the hazardous contamination. Waste was collected in separate containers following the SDU waste management system protocol, including organic, inorganic, and biohazard waste during the entire process of this competition. It was labelled and sent to professional waste treatment.

The access to the laboratory is key-card restricted during out of office hours and underlies the general Class 1 laboratory rules concerning appropriate clothing, eating and drinking. Accidents were reported, and our university adjusted the laboratory’s emergency pack as one of the iGEM team members is allergic to ampicillin. Personal protective equipment was provided.

Security considerations related to the experiments performed in this iGEM project

Wild type E. coli TOP10, ER2566, and R. sulfidophilum W12 do not pose any immediate risk. However, when the bacterium has been genetically modified, there is the risk of spreading antibiotic-resistant genes to the environment as they are part of the plasmid backbones used for positive selection. Furthermore, there is the theoretical possibility for spreading psilocybin-producing bacteria.

In connection to the transport system, P1 phage’s knockouts of efflux pumps in ER2566 were performed. The P1 phage could negatively affect the human microbiome. Furthermore, mishandling of the phage could result in contamination of the laboratory and thus interfere with ongoing experiments. If P1 phages were released into the environment, possible transduction of resistant genes to bacteria could occur.

The experiments related to this project do not exert any aerosols, nor were any needles used. The hazardous chemicals applied during protocols are psilocybin, ethidium bromide, chloroform, phenol, glacial acetic acid, dimethyl sulfoxide, and iodophor. The safety instructor described how to use and discard the chemicals.

The wet laboratory iGEM team had access to all relevant workstations appropriate for the experiments, including an open bench, biosafety cabinet, and a chemical fume hood. Most of the experiments were performed in a Class 1 laboratory. However, some were necessary for a Class 2 laboratory because a fluorescence microscope and the plate reader are only placed there. These experiments were then performed under constant supervision by a qualified supervisor.

Handling of personal data obtained in the questionnaire

A survey was conducted as part of Human Practices. Answers were reported anonymously. The SDU collaboration partner SurveyXact was used for the questionnaire and thus followed SDU General Data Protection Regulation guidelines. All interview partners provided written consent to have their personal details mentioned on the Team Wiki website and statements published, for instance, in our podcast.

SARS-CoV-2 pandemic associated safety

The iGEM SDU team has always observed and followed the recommendations of the Danish health authorities in the fight against COVID-19; these also included the SDU COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, which are listed below.

Restrictions until April 6th, 2021

  • No students and staff were allowed on the SDU campus.

Restrictions until June 14th, 2021

  • Students and staff present on SDU campus had to have documentation for a negative antigen or PCR test for COVID-19, which was not older than 72 hours – and not more than twice evenly over the last seven days.
  • Presence on the SDU campus had to be approved by the faculty and entry required a key card and passcode.
  • As iGEM is listed as a talent programme in the SDU, the complete team was allowed to physically assemble for the first time 10/4/2021.
  • Facemasks were always required on the SDU campus.
  • Social distancing was set to 2 meters.
  • Furthermore, an increased focus on hand washing hygiene was obligatory.

Restrictions August 1st, 2021

  • The use of face masks was no longer required at the SDU campus.
  • The social distancing requirement was lifted.
  • The general advice on infection prevention including ventilation, and good hand hygiene was maintained.

Restrictions until September 10th, 2021

  • The negative test requirement for students and staff when present at the SDU campus was lifted.

Restrictions from September 10th, 2021, and continuing

  • Danish health authorities do not longer categorise COVID-19 as a critical threat to society.
  • All restrictions are lifted and no special guidelines for handling and tracing of COVID-19 are longer in place.

SDU iGEM Denmark supports the fight against COVID-19. Wear face masks when necessary and get vaccinated with an approved vaccine. Stay safe.