With such a project as ours, its inevitable that safety would be a focal point. Luckily, we have given this topic a lot of thought, and have developed multiple fail-safes in the event of any accident or misuse of our hypothetical product in a real-world situation.
Experimental Concerns and Safety Methods
Our joint experiments both focused on the human body, which comes with its own risks and concerns. Specifically, the proteins Cerastotin and tPA are very potent and can be dangerous in high amounts, and we took steps to mitigate these dangers. The Cerastotin will be laced on a bandage, and therefore unable to enter the bloodstream in dangerous amounts. The tPA is a powerful thinning agent and can cause a patient’s blood to become too thin. So, with the help of our modeling team, we have calculated how much tPA is required to thin a certain volume of blood to an acceptable amount.
The Baltimore Underground Science Space takes safety as a top priority. The lab is equipped with a fire extinguisher, safety cabinet, eye wash, biohazard disposal system, and first aid kit. At the beginning of our lab work, we were given safety training by Dr. Sarah Laun, BUGSS Lab and Program Manager. She taught us how to work safely in the lab and how to minimize risks. We minimize the risk of danger by wearing PPE (gloves and lab coats, and safety glasses when needed), by bathing any bacteria with 10% bleach before disposal, and keeping proper lab rules in place, such as not allowing food or drink into the wet lab. Our team members are well versed in bioethics, thanks to a visit from the Chesapeake Area Biological Safety Association where they came and talked to our team, gave a presentation, and had us do several case studies.
In our experiment, we used the K12 strain of Escherichia coli. This strain is a very low risk option for gene expression. Most strains of E. coli are dangerous to animals, the K12 strain is safe due to its inability to survive in the human digestive tract, which is where bacteria typically wreak their havoc. This means that our two experiments, which both used K12 E. Coli to express our proteins, do not pose a risk to the human body from the bacteria.