Expert reaction to a paper suggesting that gene drives could be used to help control grey squirrel numbers in the UK

Anonymous,  Science Media Centre,  2021.

This study assesses the prospects for using a gene drive to control invasive grey squirrels in the UK. This is a modelling study exploring the potential for such an approach – no such gene drives currently exist and developing them for grey squirrels would be quite a long-term project. Invasive species are a major problem for biodiversity and conservation; in many cases there are no adequate methods for control. Genetic methods may provide new options, potentially both more effective and with fewer off-target effects. Most work on gene drives has focused on mosquitoes; this study is unusual in focusing on a vertebrate (grey squirrel), though there has also been interest in targeting invasive populations of mice and rats on islands.

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