Gene Drives: A Potentially New Weapon Against Mosquitoes

M. Sherman,  Times Union Online,  2022.

Scientists have studied gene drives for more than 50 years, and to most of us this has been a well-kept secret. The development of a powerful genome editing tool in 2012, CRISPR/Cas9,1 led to recent breakthroughs in gene drive research that built on that half century’s worth of knowledge, and stimulated new discussions of the potential applications and implications of gene drive technologies. Just prior to the beginning of this study and since the committee was first convened, scientists published four proofs of concept — one in yeast, one in fruit flies, and two in different species of mosquitoes — that demonstrate the successful development of gene drives in the laboratory, at least in these organisms.Proposed applications for gene-drive modified organisms for basic research, conservation, agriculture, public health and other purposes will likely continue to expand as gene editing tools become more refined. Gene-drive modified organisms are on the horizon. With mosquitoes, the gene drive interferes with the insect’s ability to reproduce. It wiped out captive populations in eight or 12 generations. The first experimental release could be rolled out in Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana or Uganda.

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