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Here at LINKS_China, we prioritize safety as one of our main concerns and we strive to protect both our team members as well as our surrounding environments and communities from any slightest danger potentially posed by our lab.Our lab is graded level one in terms of biosafety which means all the materials can impose little to no risks on the health of individuals. All experiments involving live micro-organisms is conducted in the hood.
Our lab is separated into contaminated and non-contaminated areas so experiments involving SDS-page, agarose electrophoresis, etc will only be conducted in the contaminated area. Our lab also strictly bans the use of poisonous, heavy metals, volatile strong acids, or dangerous materials to be used in experiments, furthermore we have an eye bath and other equipments to protect the safety of our team members.
Our team members also protects themselves by wearing gloves, coats and masks. We also have in place a set of lab rules that instructs our members to not eat or drink in lab, not wear sandals during experiment, etc. Since it is a special period of time due to the pandemic，we have measures in place to protect ourselves from COVID-19. For example, anyone entering our lab will first need to have their temperatures taken and any visitors to our lab will be recorded. Also, our lab supervisors Wang Bo Xiang and Yuhan are professionally skilled to instruct us and are responsible for overseeing that we perform safe lab protocols. We also have a set of penalties involved in fining those who violated the rules and the money collected will contribute to our the funds for our project.
We worked with two strains of Escherichia coli for our project, those are e.coli DH5a and Bl21(DE3). We used DH5a form construction of our plasmid and Bl21 for protein synthesis of our type IV pili. Both DH5a and Bl21 are one of the most common chassis used in synthetic biology and they are completely safe, furthermore they would die if they are taken from the precise environment and conditions that our lab provides. All the genes used in our lab is also non-poisonous, however we did use the strain EDL933’s gene. But we did not use that strain of Escherichia coli merely the gene that we derived from the gene of DH5a by point mutations. The final product of our product is Pili which is safe and biodegradable. When eventually it is made into a battery suitable for the market, if the battery is discarded by consumers after usage, it will pose no harm in the environment.
For our public education this year, we produced a kit with materials that people can use to conduct their own fun miniature synthetic biology experiments with, for example, extraction of fruit DNA, etc. The kit has no living organism or DNA included, nor does it contain any microorganism growth medium. We are cautious with not giving, or providing the environment for growing lethal bacteria by accident for our kit users. Instead, we recommend to the users to replace the growth medium with fruit juice since it is safe to dispose at any time.
Do not release policy
We invited people to tour our lab but they are restricted from taking anything away with them. We mostly used videos to present our projects and All bacteria or any other materials can’t by taken from the lab. Furthermore After experiments we would sterilized our (bacteria solution) using 84 disinfectants (also know as bleach) and we would sterilized peri dishes(plates) and all other contaminated materials or equipments, using high temperature or high pressure environment before disposing them.