Health Security

A Closing Window of Opportunity for Gene Drive Governance in the United States

K. L. Warmbrod, M. Montague and G. K. Gronvall,  Health Security,  20:3-5. 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth a number of biotechnological advances to enhance the public’s health: new diagnostic tests, mRNA vaccines, and new antiviral medications. Biotechnology is also being used to address global challenges like climate change, food insecurity, and building the bioeconomy, which directly or indirectly improve public health. Gene drives are one such biotechnology. They are genetically engineered systems that can alter the inheritance patterns in a host species, such as a mosquito, so that a greater percentage of its progeny inherit a specific desired trait. Research and investments in biotechnology have been used to reduce arthropod-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria and Zika, and to manage or eliminate invasive species.2 Funding thus far has been adequate. For example, Target Malaria, a global consortium of researchers developing a gene drive to decrease the burden of malaria, has an average of US$11.5 million per year in funding.3 Although no gene drive has been released into the environment yet, technologies with similar attributes have been released in field trials, notably by Oxitec in Florida

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