Assessing CRISPR/Cas9 potential in SDG3 attainment: malaria elimination—regulatory and community engagement landscape

Snuzik, A.,  Malaria Journal,  23. 2024.

Elimination of malaria has become a United Nations member states target: Target 3.3 of the sustainable development goal no. 3 (SDG3). Despite the measures taken, the attainment of this goal is jeopardized by an alarming trend of increasing malaria case incidence. Globally, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases in 2020 in 85 malaria-endemic countries, increasing from 227 million in 2019. Malaria case incidence was 59, which means effectively no changes in the numbers occurred, compared with the baseline 2015. Jennifer Doudna—co-inventor of CRISPR/Cas9 technology—claims that CRISPR holds the potential to lessen or even eradicate problems lying in the centre of SDGs. On the same note, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mosquito-targeting gene drives (MGD) are perceived as a potential means to turn this trend back and put momentum into the malaria elimination effort. This paper assessed two of the critical elements of the World Health Organization Genetically modified mosquitoes (WHO GMM) Critical Pathway framework: the community and stakeholders’ engagement (inability to employ widely used frameworks, segmentation of the public, ‘bystander’ status, and guidelines operationalization) and the regulatory landscape (lex generali, ‘goldilocks dilemma’, and mode of regulation) concerning mosquito-oriented gene drives (MGD) advances. Based on the assessment findings, the author believes that CRISPR/Cas-9-mediated MGD will not contribute to the attainment of SDG3 (Target 3.3), despite the undisputable technology’s potential. This research pertains to the state of knowledge, legal frameworks, and legislature, as of November 2022.

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