Self-eliminating Genes Tested on Disease-carrying Mosquitoes

M. Taylor,  Laboratory Equipment,  2022.

There’s good reason why CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing is not allowed at the germline. While international commissions are working hard to make this a possibility, potential unknown effects further down the ancestry line raise concerns about the process. The insect equivalent of this—gene drive transgene research—hasn’t been a cause of much concern for researchers working on genetic control of vector populations, especially disease-carrying mosquitoes. Scientists from Texas A&M, however, think the potential affects should be always be considered and have now devised a technology to make all genetic modifications in mosquitoes temporary—until a time when adequate testing ensures safety. Zach Adelman, author of a new paper on the research and a professor at Texas A&M, says many of today’s insect genetic control strategies are based on highly invasive, self-propagating transgenes that can rapidly spread the trait into other populations of mosquitoes. Adelman’s method, however, allows proposed genetic changes to be tested on a temporary basis—without the risk of transmitting them to wild populations. The temporary genetic modifications self-delete over multiple generations of mosquitoes.

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