Symbionts and gene drive: two strategies to combat vector-borne disease

G.-H. Wang, J. Du, C. Y. Chu, M. Madhav, G. L. Hughes and J. Champer,  Trends in Genetics,  2022.

Mosquitoes bring global health problems by transmitting parasites and viruses such as malaria and dengue. Unfortunately, current insecticide-based control strategies are only moderately effective because of high cost and resistance. Thus, scalable, sustainable, and cost-effective strategies are needed for mosquito-borne disease control. Symbiont-based and genome engineering-based approaches provide new tools that show promise for meeting these criteria, enabling modification or suppression approaches. Symbiotic bacteria like Wolbachia are maternally inherited and manipulate mosquito host reproduction to enhance their vertical transmission. Genome engineering-based gene drive methods, in which mosquitoes are genetically altered to spread drive alleles throughout wild populations, are also proving to be a potentially powerful approach in the laboratory. Here, we review the latest developments in both symbionts and gene drive-based methods. We describe some notable similarities, as well as distinctions and obstacles, relating to these promising technologies.

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