New gene-drive technologies can help control crop pests

Anonymous,  AZO Life Sciences,  2021.

The supposed gene drives, which exploit CRISPR technology to affect genetic inheritance, show the potential to quickly spread particular genetic traits across the populations of a specified species. For instance, gene-drive technologies used on insects are being developed to stop the spread of devastating diseases, like dengue and malaria, by inhibiting mosquito hosts from becoming infected. Gene-drives are being designed in agricultural fields to help regulate or remove economically damaging crop pests. But together with the potential to modify populations, there have been concerns about the long-term impacts of these transformative novel technologies in the wild. Both scientists and ethicists have queried about how the so-called gene drives, once turned loose in a regional population, can be controlled if required. Scientists from the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego), Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) at UC San Diego, and their collaborators at UC Berkeley have now designed a new technique that gives more control over the release of gene drives. Information about the new “split drive” was published in the Nature Communications and eLife journals on March 5th, 2021.

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