The case material is presented as in depth material for students and researchers to help address a range of safety issues, and apply Safe-by-Design in the field of biotechnology. 

Five cases intended to stimulate group discussions, are available in different expertise fields of biotechnology. Each case is comprised of background information to the case and suggestions for group discussions. Specific to teachers, a guidance document is available for providing background information on the use of the case material, biosafety and safe-by-design in biotechnology.

Background information and guidance
DNA bewerking

Guidance document to the teacher  for addressing Safe-by-Design in biotechnology. Background information on the use of the cases and biosafety is provided as well. 

1. Biocontainment strategy for cyanobacteria

Scientists developed a biocontainment strategy for the cyanobacterium Synechococcus by engineering it to depend on nutrients that are not available outside its cultivated environment (the production plant like a photobioreactor or a (semi-)open pond). As a consequence, it is highly likely that it will not be able to thrive if it escapes into the environment. Is it, or is this a simplification of a real-world situation?

2. Orthogonality in the genetic code

This case describes orthogonality with respect to the chemical composition of the DNA helix. The backbone of DNA is redesigned and composed of phosphoramidate (PN) linkages. The DNA can be replicated  and used for gene expression. How would you consider the different safety issues and future use? 

3. Using Converging techniques

Scientists have developed a DNA delivery method based on the use of carbon nanotubes as carriers of the DNA to plant cells.  The technique seems to be easy to use and applicable to different plant species, for example to rucola. Its straightforward use enables application of the technique by DIY-biologists. Do the risks to humans and the environment caused by carbon nanotubes demand a safety evaluation?

4. GM bacteriophages as therapeutic agents

Medical doctors, in collaboration with molecular virologists, designed a bacteriophage cocktail to treat a lethal bacterial infection in a patient suffering from cystic fibrosis. The cocktail contained a genetically modified bacteriophage and two selected wildtype phages. It is the first therapeutic use of genetically modified phages to treat a human mycobacterial infection. How do you consider the safety aspects, or how do you address moral and ethical issues?

5. Combining genetic parts

This case has its origin in the fundamental research of Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Researchers came up with the idea of creating a hybrid virus to enable the study of HBV replication in mice. This hybrid virus consisted of the HBV genome integrated into the adenovirus (AdV1) genome. The adenovirus efficiently infects the mice cells and delivers the HBV genome into them. What serious safety questions are raised by broadening the host spectrum of a virus in such a way?

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