Biosafety - Regulations

As mentioned in previous pages, our project involves the design of an in vitro diagnostic tool whose operation is based on synthesized RNA molecules called toehold switches. More information on the function of these molecules can be found in the "Project Description" section. Toehold switches functionality does not require the presence of bacteria or any other microorganism. Nevertheless, the use of a chassis organism is necessary for the contriving and their experimental control. However, this fact gives us the opportunity to select the most harmless microorganisms available. Thus, for the development of our project we chose these three E.coli strains:
  • ~ DH5a
  • ~ DH10b
  • ~ BL21
At this point, it is essential to highlight that these strains have been widely used in laboratory research. The level of biosecurity that is needed as well as the condition of their way of handling are well established.

  • In the documents listed in the links below, it is clearly stated that these particular strains, which are classified as risk group 1, are unlikely to give rise to safety issues concerning human and environmental health. Specifically, in the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual and the directive 2000/54/EC of the European Union on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work , this affirmation can be found.
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    Additionally, it is distinctly mentioned in the European Union guidelines -to which the laboratories of our country are complied to- that microorganisms can be classified into 4 categories.
  • Since our laboratory is classified as Biosafety Level 1 , we are in position to experiment with Risk group 1 microorganisms. The risk of these microorganisms to harm the health of humans and cause environmental problems is insignificant. The confirmation of the above can, also, be ascertained in the Official Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic along with the European Union Directive 2009/41/EC for the contained use of Genetically Modified Microorganisms. You can find these documents in the links below:
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Laboratory Safety


Possible Hazards

Our team recognizes that despite any technological advances currently happening, it is absolutely important to protect the environment and maintain a balance in natural habitats. On this page we managed to list the risks that can potentially cause environmental damage or threaten human health.

| Possible hazards during our experiments

An important risk associated with our experimental procedures, is the antimicrobial resistance genes that will be used as selection markers. A potential hazard may occur if the genetically modified organisms containing these genes happen to escape into the environment. A significant effect of that would be the spread of antimicrobial resistance to other wild type bacteria species existing, though horizontal transfer. So eventually a formation of pathogens resistant to medicine could occur.

In our laboratory we experimented with commonly used antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, ampicillin, and kanamycin as well as their resistance genes. Many human infections are treated with use of these antibiotics and are also listed by WHO as Critically Important Antimicrobials. Hence, we consider that one of our top priorities is to preserve the efficiency of the antibiotics mentioned above by making sure that none modified microorganism will escape to the environment.