Gene Drives: Dynamics and Regulatory Matters-A Report from the Workshop “Evaluation of Spatial and Temporal Control of Gene Drives,” April 4-5, 2019, Vienna

B. Giese, J. L. Friess, N. H. Barton, P. W. Messer, F. Debarre, M. F. Schetelig, N. Windbichler, H. Meimberg and C. Boete,  Bioessays,  41:3. 2019.

Gene Drives are regarded as future tools with a high potential for population control. Due to their inherent ability to overcome the rules of Mendelian inheritance, gene drives (GD) may spread genes rapidly through populations of sexually reproducing organisms. A release of organisms carrying a GD would constitute a paradigm shift in the handling of genetically modified organisms because gene drive organisms (GDO) are designed to drive their transgenes into wild populations and thereby increase the number of GDOs. The rapid development in this field and its focus on wild populations demand a prospective risk assessment with a focus on exposure related aspects. Presently, it is unclear how adequate risk management could be guaranteed to limit the spread of GDs in time and space, in order to avoid potential adverse effects in socio‐ecological systems.

The recent workshop on the “Evaluation of Spatial and Temporal Control of Gene Drives” hosted by the Institute of Safety/Security and Risk Sciences (ISR) in Vienna aimed at gaining some insight into the potential population dynamic behavior of GDs and appropriate measures of control. Scientists from France, Germany, England, and the USA discussed both topics in this meeting on April 4–5, 2019. This article summarizes results of the workshop.