An Introduction to Containment Recommendations for Gene Drive Mosquitoes and the Laboratory Rearing of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in Africa

S. Higgs,  Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases,  2022.

The prospect of using genetically engineered arthropods to reduce the incidence of vector-borne diseases either indirectly by suppressing vector populations or directly by replacing wild-type vector species with less competent ones has long been discussed; however, only in the past few years has this become feasible. The advent of CRISPR/Cas9-based gene drive and its application to mosquitoes have been a critical factor in bringing the dream to reality, but with opportunity also comes responsibility. Safe and secure handling of genetically engineered arthropods under laboratory/insectary conditions was considered in the original and revised ACGs, and under field conditions by Benedict et al. (2008). Although not discussed in these ACGs, hence the need for this addendum, Benedict et al. (2018) discussed containment and management of gene drive arthropods as distinct from genetically modified mosquitoes under laboratory conditions. A prerequisite for the application of engineered mosquitoes for mosquito-borne disease control is the rearing of these mosquitoes in countries where releases will ultimately occur. In 2018, three companion articles were published in VBZ that discussed this very issue (Mumford et al. 2018, Quinlan et al. 2018a, 2018b), with James et al. (2020) discussing efficacy and safety criteria for advancing gene drive-modified mosquitoes to field testing. In this issue of VBZ, we publish two highly relevant articles that coincidentally, although submitted independently, are complementary.

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