Laboratory Biosafety in Handling Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

J. Charles,  Genetically Modified and other Innovative Vector Control Technologies,  2021.

One of the novel approaches in controlling vector-borne diseases is to release genetically modified mosquitoes in nature. Trial studies are done in different phases by the researches, both in the laboratory and in the fields. Before a GM mosquito is validated to be ready for field release, the same has to rigorously go through several phase studies, and Phase I being the laboratory is the most significant to set the future of the GM mosquito for future investigations. Though the risk of handling GM mosquitoes in laboratory is low, nevertheless there is a prescribed list of DOs and DON’Ts, and the laboratory workers are needed to strictly follow the SOPs or basic principles of biosafety like handling administrative controls, using biosafety equipment, wearing personal protective equipment, etc. The laboratory also should have a proper design as per the risk assessment. Accordingly, the biosafety laboratories (BSL) are classified into four types: type 1, 2, 3 and 4. The risks are assessed as per the factors in the host, vector and donor sequences and the environmental factors and their activities in such environments. As GMMs are of low risk, BSL 1 and 2 are enough for their manipulation, but occasionally BSL 3 may be needed. There may be chances of spillage on the working surfaces during manipulation of the genes which can be remedied by the spill management protocols. Biological wastes may be generated in all areas of manipulation. These can be properly treated by either chemical disinfection or autoclaving and disposed of by incineration. These wastes should be segregated in colour-coded bags before disposal. There may be some risks while transporting GMMs to distant places. They should be packed securely in triple-layer pack and sent for disposal following IATA and other road rules. For each process of the manipulation of gene, a separate standard operating procedure (SOP) should be maintained which has to be updated whenever any change in the procedure is made.

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