What is BiP A and how does it work? | Summary and Q&A

September 20, 2016
World Science Festival
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What is BiP A and how does it work?


Scientists have developed safety measures for genetically modified E.coli to prevent its escape from the lab and potential consequences in the wild.

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Key Insights

  • 🥼 Safety concerns arise when genetically modified organisms, like E.coli, have the potential to escape from lab environments.
  • 👶 Engineered E.coli can pose risks in the wild by out-competing other strains or introducing new advantages.
  • 🎮 Developing safety measures, such as dependency on lab-specific chemicals, can prevent the survival and spread of genetically modified E.coli outside controlled environments.
  • 🧑‍⚕️ Establishing robust safety protocols is crucial in fields like genetic engineering to avoid potential ecological and health risks.
  • 🌸 The creation of virus-resistant E.coli can significantly mitigate the downtime and economic losses caused by viral contamination.
  • 🌐 The global nature of E.coli highlights the importance of implementing effective safety measures to prevent the international spread of genetically modified organisms.
  • 🦺 Continuous monitoring and improvement of safety measures are essential to stay ahead of potential risks in genetic engineering.


if this ecoli is a sort of work horse in the email laboratory one of the questions that scared and timorous people would have is that if George or any of you guys engineers an e coli that is new to the world and it just slips out the window and goes I don't know out of NYU into into Washington Square Park that it might meet another eco I don't know... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What safety concerns did the scientists have regarding genetically modified E.coli?

The scientists were concerned about the potential consequences of genetically modified E.coli escaping from the lab and interacting with wild E.coli. There was a risk that the modified E.coli could out-compete other strains or create new advantages.

Q: Why did the scientists create a virus-resistant E.coli?

The scientists aimed to address industrial contamination caused by viruses. Even a single viral particle could lead to significant factory downtime. Developing a virus-resistant E.coli would mitigate this problem.

Q: How did the scientists ensure the engineered E.coli would not survive outside the lab?

The scientists made the engineered E.coli dependent on a lab-specific chemical called buffet, which is not found in the wild. This ensured that if the E.coli left the lab, it would immediately start starving and be unable to survive without the chemical.

Q: What was the level of safety established for the engineered E.coli?

The safety measures implemented for the engineered E.coli were highly stringent, with an escape probability estimated at one in 10^16. This greatly reduced the risk of accidental release and potential consequences.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Safety concerns arise when genetically modified E.coli escapes from the lab and interacts with wild E.coli, potentially leading to unexpected changes or advantages.

  • A virus-resistant E.coli was created to address industrial contamination, but there was a risk of it spreading and out-competing wild E.coli populations.

  • To mitigate this risk, the engineered E.coli was designed to be dependent on a lab-specific chemical, ensuring that it would not survive outside controlled environments.

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