Regulatory and policy considerations for the implementation of gene drive-modified mosquitoes to prevent malaria transmission

S. L. James, B. Dass and H. Quemada,  Transgenic Research,  2023.

Gene drive-modified mosquitoes (GDMMs) are being developed as possible new tools to prevent transmission of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. To date no GDMMs have yet undergone field testing. This early stage is an opportune time for developers, supporters, and possible users to begin to consider the potential regulatory requirements for eventual implementation of these technologies in national or regional public health programs, especially as some of the practical implications of these requirements may take considerable planning, time and coordination to address. Several currently unresolved regulatory questions pertinent to the implementation of GDMMs are examined, including: how the product will be defined; what the registration/approval process will be for placing new GDMM products on the market; how the potential for transboundary movement of GDMMs can be addressed; and what role might be played by existing multinational bodies and agreements in authorization decisions. Regulation and policies applied for registration of other genetically modified organisms or other living mosquito products are assessed for relevance to the use case of GDMMs to prevent malaria in Africa. Multiple national authorities are likely to be involved in decision-making, according to existing laws in place within each country for certain product classes. Requirements under the Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity will be considered relevant in most countries, as may existing regulatory frameworks for conventional pesticide, medical, and biocontrol products. Experience suggests that standard regulatory processes, evidence requirements, and liability laws differ from country to country. Regional mechanisms will be useful to address some of the important challenges.

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