Safety is the foundation of setting up an experiment. Knowing the importance of laboratory safety, QHFZ-China did a great job ensuring the safety of experimenters and biomaterials during the experiment. We followed the experience from our team last year, and made some improvements to adapt to the situation this year.
General laboratory safety
1) We have a list of lab rules, which functions to standardize the design of our experiment and protect ourselves. For instance, we wore normalized lab clothes and put on gloves on a daily basis. Masks were also needed, and bacteria and cell experiments were carried out in the biosafety cabinet.
2) We strictly observed the rule that food and water are not allowed in the lab and also that equipment and materials from the lab are not allowed to be brought out.
3) We also have emergency showers and fire extinguishers in our lab in order to avoid unnecessary loss when accidents occur. Moreover, our lab has a generous ventilation system. There are multiple doors and windows.
4) Little toxic substances were used in this experiment. We used safe nucleic acid dye to replace ethidium bromide. No heavy metals or extremely toxic substance was used.
5) No human blood samples, urine samples, saliva samples or any other related samples were used.
6) There was at least one expert teacher present when there were students in the lab in order to supervise and make sure of our safety.
7) When entering the cell room, everybody must take off their shoes and sterilize their gloves by 75% alcohol.
8) Bacteria solution was treated with disinfectant overnight before being discarded. Consumables which were contaminated with bacteria solution and cell culture medium were collected and then discarded after high-temperature sterilization. We have a waste discharge record.
Waste disposal and record.
9) Before we entered the laboratory, our instructor, Xing Zhang, gave us a lecture on biosafety which provided us with basic background information. After that, we had a examination about biosafety.
Lecture on biosafety and Examination about biosafety
10) For all our bacteria and cells, we used the usual biological chassis models, which are highly secure in labs, and their safety levels are 1 (E. coli) or 2 (human HeLa cells). The gene parts are safe and were synthesised by a company, but not isolated from genomic DNA of their parent organisms.
11) We carefully finished the safety form, which was checked by our partner, ZJUT_China_B team.
12) The lyophilizer is the only new-bought device in our lab. To ensure safety, we made a lot of attempts.
13) We interviewed two pharmaceutical factories to study the use of lyophilizer and how to keep it in normal condition. The experts told us that lyophilizer is safe enough in design.
14) We interviewed the engineer of the manufacturer to study how to use and maintain the lyophilizer, and how to avoid risk.
15) Our lyophilizer was never left on overnight, which meant that there were experimenters monitoring the device once it was in operation. And it has been promised by the manufacturer that explosion and similar problems should not occur.
16) All experiments were carried out in our laboratory. We clearly know that there is still a long way to go before practical application.
17) In future applications, to the bacteria, we will develop a biosafety module to avoid the leak into the environment ; to the mammalian cells, we plan to add a biosecurity module, which is a suicide device, to ensure the safety of users .
18) Due to the impact of COVID-19, we avoided unnecessary outside activities, face to face meetings, and replaced them with online meetups. For most Human Practices, we mostly used Wechat, Zoom and other software, or telephone to interview.
19) We were forbidded to enter the lab and do experiments when the epidemic was serious in Beijing. Till July, 2020, when the epidemic basically ended, we started the experiments.
20) We registered the arrival time and measured body temperature every day in our lab.
About Human Practices
21) While we did Human Practices and designed questionnaires, we carefully avoided the collecting of personal information that has nothing much to do with our project, in order to protect the respondents' privacy.
22) Learning a lesson from what we did last year, we avoided people outside our project to have any chance to get close to the bacteria and cells.
 iGEM Team BEAS_China 2019. https://2019.igem.org/Team:BEAS_China
 Di Stasi, A., Tey, S. K., Dotti, G., Fujita, Y., Kennedy-Nasser, A., Martinez, C., . . . Brenner, M. K. (2011). Inducible apoptosis as a safety switch for adoptive cell therapy. N Engl J Med, 365(18), 1673-1683. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1106152