A 'lock' to make genetic modification safer

11/18/2021 | by Leiden University | Students

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be useful allies in the fight against critical environmental problems. A Leiden student team is now trying to make these GMOs safer with the aid of a sophisticated lock.

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What if we could modify small organisms to make them consume CO2? Or extract nitrogen from the air and convert it into fertiliser? This would enable us to make these organisms into smart allies in the nitrogen crisis or in the fight against climate change.

Under strict conditions

The danger of genetic modification is that the organisms could enter the natural environment and push out the organisms already present there. To prevent this, GMOs are only permitted under strict conditions. Their potential has therefore not been fully realised, according to a Leiden student team.

The student team wants make GMOs safer to use and has therefore developed a genetic ‘lock’ called Double Plasmid Lock (DOPL LOCK for short), which was produced for the international iGEM biology competition where the students won two prizes - the Gold Medal and the Best Safety & Security Award. The team now wants to perform more tests to increase the chances of DOPL LOCK becoming a reality.

Support the project!

To find out how you can help the students in developing DOPL LOCK and pave the way to using GMOs to tackle global problems, go to:


Together we can help advance science and give the world a safer future!

Follow along!

Would you like to know more about the project or stay informed? You can! The team is active on various social media channels where they post weekly updates about their project and the activities they organise.

You can also sign up for their monthly newsletter at: https://forms.gle/V43YQMrifEhQF3f29

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