Keywords: Synthetic biology

Anti-CRISPR Anopheles mosquitoes inhibit gene drive spread under challenging behavioural conditions in large cages

D’Amato, R., Taxiarchi, C., Galardini, M. et al.,  Nature Communications,  15:952. 2024.
CRISPR-based gene drives have the potential to spread within populations and are considered as promising vector control tools. A doublesex-targeting gene drive was able to suppress laboratory Anopheles mosquito populations in small and large cages, and it is considered for field ...
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A multiplexed, confinable CRISPR/Cas9 gene drive can propagate in caged Aedes aegypti populations

Anderson, M.A.E., Gonzalez, E., Edgington, M.P. et al.,  Nature Communications,  15. 2024.
Aedes aegypti is the main vector of several major pathogens including dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses. Classical mosquito control strategies utilizing insecticides are threatened by rising resistance. This has stimulated interest in new genetic systems such as gene ...
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A bumpy road ahead for genetic biocontainment

George, D.R., Danciu, M., Davenport, P.W. et al,  Nature Communications,  2024.
The environmental release of bioengineered organisms is increasingly being suggested for a variety of applications, including bioremediation, biosequestration, bio-mining, environmental biosensing and conservation. The objectives of many environmental release applications shift ...
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Gene drive and genetic sex conversion in the global agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata

Meccariello, A., Hou, S., Davydova, S. et al.,  Nature Communications,  15:372. 2024.
Homing-based gene drives are recently proposed interventions promising the area-wide, species-specific genetic control of harmful insect populations. Here we characterise a first set of gene drives in a tephritid agricultural pest species, the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis ...
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Programmed evolution: Using asexual gene drives to sculpt tumor populations and combat genetic diversity

Justin Pritchard, Scott Leighow, Joshua Reynolds et al.,  Research Square,  2024.
Resistance evolution is responsible for the failure of most targeted anticancer therapies. Tumor heterogeneity is so profound that pre-existing resistance is thought to be guaranteed at the time that advanced disease is detected. The practice of waiting for treatment failure and ...
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Population suppression with dominant female-lethal alleles is boosted by homing gene drive

Jinyu Zhu, Jingheng Chen, Yiran Liu, Xuejiao Xu, Jackson Champer,  bioRxiv,  2023.
Methods to suppress pest insect populations using genetic constructs and repeated releases of male homozygotes have recently been shown to be an attractive alternative to older sterile insect technique based on radiation. Female-specific lethal alleles have substantially ...
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A homing rescue gene drive with multiplexed gRNAs reaches high frequency in cage populations but generates functional resistance

Jingheng Chen, Shibo Hou, Ruobing Feng, Xuejiao Xu, Nan Liang, Jackson Champer,  bioRxiv,  2023.
CRISPR homing gene drive is a potent technology with considerable potential for managing populations of medically and agriculturally significant insects. It induces a bias in the inheritance of the drive allele in progeny, rapidly spreading desired genes throughout the ...
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Advances and challenges in synthetic biology for mosquito control

Shih-Che Weng, Reem A. Masri, Omar S. Akbari,  Trends in Parasitology,  2023.
Mosquito-borne illnesses represent a significant global health peril, resulting in approximately one million fatalities annually. West Nile, dengue, Zika, and malaria are continuously expanding their global reach, driven by factors that escalate mosquito populations and pathogen ...
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Gene drives for the extinction of wild metapopulations

Jason W. Olejarz, Martin A. Nowak,  Journal of Theoretical Biology,  2023.
Population-suppressing gene drives may be capable of extinguishing wild populations, with proposed applications in conservation, agriculture, and public health. However, unintended and potentially disastrous consequences of release of drive-engineered individuals are extremely ...
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A synthetic biology approach to transgene expression

P. Leftwich, T. , J. Purcell, C. , M. Anderson, A. E. , R. Fragkoudis, S. Basu, G. Lycett, T. and L. Alphey,  bioRxiv,  2023.08.31.555539. 2023.
The ability to control gene expression is pivotal in genetic engineering and synthetic biology. However, in most non-model and pest insect species, empirical evidence for predictable modulation of gene expression levels is lacking. This knowledge gap is critical for genetic ...
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Fighting the battle against evolution: designing genetically modified organisms for evolutionary stability

M. Arbel-Groissman, I. Menuhin-Gruman, D. Naki, S. Bergman and T. Tuller,  Trends in Biotechnology,  2023.
Synthetic biology has made significant progress in many areas, but a major challenge that has received limited attention is the evolutionary stability of synthetic constructs made of heterologous genes. The expression of these constructs in microorganisms, that is, production of ...
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Steering and controlling evolution — from bioengineering to fighting pathogens

M. Lässig, V. Mustonen and A. Nourmohammad,  Nature Reviews Genetics,  2023.
Control interventions steer the evolution of molecules, viruses, microorganisms or other cells towards a desired outcome. Applications range from engineering biomolecules and synthetic organisms to drug, therapy and vaccine design against pathogens and cancer. In all these ...
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Engineering stringent genetic biocontainment of yeast with a protein stability switch

S. A. Hoffmann and Y. Cai,  bioRxiv,  2022.11.24.517818. 2022.
Synthetic biology holds immense promise to tackle key problems we are facing, for instance in resource use, environmental health, and human health care. However, comprehensive safety measures are needed to deploy genetically engineered microorganisms in open-environment ...
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Ethics of gene drive mosquitoes for malaria elimination

A. J. Roberts,  McMaster University,  2022.
This thesis is concerned with presenting analyses regarding key ethical issues regarding and arising from the development and potential use of gene drive modified mosquitoes for the purpose of malaria elimination. Each of the chapters constituting this thesis offers a rigorously ...
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Hurdles in responsive community engagement for the development of environmental biotechnologies

A. M. Normandin, L. M. Fitzgerald, J. Yip and S. W. Evans,  Synthetic Biology,  7:ysac022. 2022.
Recent calls for engaging communities in biotechnology development do not draw enough attention to the hurdles that must be overcome for engagement strategies to effectively feed back into research design and conduct. These hurdles call into question many standard ways of ...
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Rational engineering of a synthetic insect-bacterial mutualism

Y. Su, H.-C. Lin, L. S. Teh, F. Chevance, I. James, C. Mayfield, K. G. Golic, J. A. Gagnon, O. Rog and C. Dale,  Current Biology,  2022.
Summary Many insects maintain mutualistic associations with bacterial endosymbionts, but little is known about how they originate in nature. In this study, we describe the establishment and manipulation of a synthetic insect-bacterial symbiosis in a weevil host. Following egg ...
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Biologists engineered insect-bacterial mutualism in ‘bucket list’ achievement

Annonymous,  @THEU,  2022.
A new paper in Current Biology authored by Crystal Su and other collaborators in the School of Biological Sciences describes the development of a novel, synthetic insect-bacterial symbiosis that is sustained through many insect generations by transovarial bacterial transmission. ...
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Bayesian network-based risk assessment of synthetic biology: Simulating CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive dynamics in invasive rodent management

E. A. Brown, S. R. Eikenbary and W. G. Landis,  Risk Analysis,  2022.
Gene drive technology has been proposed to control invasive rodent populations as an alternative to rodenticides. However, this approach has not undergone risk assessment that meets criteria established by Gene Drives on the Horizon, a 2016 report by the National Academies of ...
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Demystifying the Convention on Biological Diversity

Hector Quemada and David O'Brochta,  GeneConvene Global Collaborative,  2022.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement aimed at providing the legal framework for country cooperation to conserve biodiversity, while also enabling its sustainable use, and providing for fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from ...
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Insect pest management in the age of synthetic biology

R. Mateos Fernández, M. Petek, I. Gerasymenko, M. Juteršek, Š. Baebler, K. Kallam, E. Moreno Giménez, J. Gondolf, A. Nordmann, K. Gruden, D. Orzaez and N. J. Patron,  Plant Biotechnology Journal,  2021.
Arthropod crop pests are responsible for 20% of global annual crop losses, a figure predicted to increase in a changing climate where the ranges of numerous species are projected to expand. At the same time, many insect species are beneficial, acting as pollinators and predators ...
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The legal regulation of gene drive technologies

C. Elves,  Univeristy of Oxford,  2021.
Gene drive technologies purport to provide a panacea and yet in doing so present unprecedented risks that threaten to change, potentially irreversibly, the way in which we live in the world. Gene drive technologies raise questions about what ends societies ought to seek for their ...
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Developing GDi-CRISPR System for Multi-copy Integration in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Z.-X. Zhang, Y.-Z. Wang, Y.-S. Xu, X.-M. Sun and H. Huang,  Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology,  2021.
This study aims to develop a low-cost and easy-to-use multi-copy integration tool in S. cerevisiae. Firstly, twenty-one Cas proteins from different microorganisms were tested in S. cerevisiae to find the functional Cas proteins with optimal cleavage ability. Results showed that ...
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Population genomics of invasive rodents on islands: Genetic consequences of colonization and prospects for localized synthetic gene drive

K. P. Oh, A. B. Shiels, L. Shiels, D. V. Blondel, K. J. Campbell, J. R. Saah, A. L. Lloyd, P. Q. Thomas, F. Gould, Z. Abdo, J. R. Godwin and A. J. Piaggio,  Evolutionary Applications,  2021.
Here we used pooled whole-genome sequencing of invasive mouse (Mus musculus) populations on four islands along with paired putative source populations to test genetic predictions of island colonization and characterize locally fixed Cas9 genomic targets. Patterns of variation ...
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Plain language summary: How do we have a public conversation about new technologies for conservation? The possibilities and pitfalls of scientific language

Annonymous,  Relational Thinking,  2021.
Having caused a catastrophic decline of animal species, people now look to new technologies to reverse the damage. Gene drive is a potential tool that could increase the proportion of male offspring in rat populations and eventually reduce their overall numbers. Some suggest this ...
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Scientifically framed gene drive communication perceived as credible but riskier

E. A. MacDonald, E. D. Edwards, J. Balanovic and F. Medvecky,  People and Nature,  2021.
Framing is a communication technique in which certain beliefs or values are emphasized that resonate with the target audience. Framing may increase how much people objectively think about new information and update their opinions; framing may mitigate emo
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Projects to target a range of pest control solutions

K. McCormack,  The Chronicle,  2021.
With the annual national cost of established vertebrate pest animals estimated to be around $800 million, and over $4 billion for weeds, it’s in Australia’s best interest to try and tackle these pesky problems at their root causes. 19 projects will be funded following a ...
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Assisting Evolution: How Far Should We Go to Help Species Adapt?

E. Kolbert,  YaleEnvironment360,  2021.
It was a hot, intensely blue day in the Australian Outback, about 350 miles north of Adelaide. I was tagging along with Moseby as she checked the batteries on the motion-sensitive cameras that dot Arid Recovery, an ecosystem restoration project she and her husband launched in ...
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Should we dim the sun? Will we even have a choice

E. Klein,  New York Times,  2021.
“Under a White Sky” is going to be on my best books of 2021 list. It’s a wonderful work. Kolbert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sixth Extinction,” which you may have read. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker and just one of the great science ...
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Public attitudes towards synthetic biology

CSIRO,  Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform,  2021.
A national survey has been conducted by CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform as an important first step in measuring public attitudes towards synthetic biology. The survey draws on the views of more than 8,000 Australians, and researchers are examining the data to ...
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In Our Image: The Ethics of CRISPR Genome Editing

J. C. Eissenberg,  Biomolecular Concepts,  12:1-7. 2021.
Here, I discuss the ethics surrounding the transformative CRISPR/Cas9mediated genome editing technology in the contexts of human genome editing to eradicate genetic disease and of gene drive technology to eradicate animal vectors of human disease.
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Playing God and tampering with nature: popular labels for real concerns in synthetic biology

L. Carter, A. Mankad, E. V. Hobman and N. B. Porter,  Transgenic Research,  2021.
We present the findings from a large Australian study (N = 4593) which suggests ‘playing God’ objections and their variants can be multilayered and, at times, accompanied by meaningful information about risk perceptions. We use qualitative analysis of ope
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The Promises and Realities of Integration in Synthetic Biology: A View From Social Science

L. Carter and A. Mankad,  Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology,  8. 2021.
We take stock of thepromises and realities of science integration by sharing our experiences of embarking onthis very challenge in Australia. We conclude by offering suggestions for bringing aboutthe enabling conditions for improved integration across the natural and social ...
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Vector dynamics influence spatially imperfect genetic interventions against disease

M. K. Yuksel, C. H. Remien, B. Karki, J. J. Bull and S. M. Krone,  Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health,  9:1-10. 2020.
In spatially structured populations, imperfect coverage of the vector will leave pockets in which the parasite may persist. Movement by humans may disrupt this local persistence and facilitate eradication when these pockets are small, spreading parasite reproduction outside ...
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Governing New Biotechnologies for Biodiversity Conservation: Gene Drives, International Law, and Emerging Politics

J. L. Reynolds,  Global Environmental Politics,  20:28-48. 2020.
This article describes and analyzes the international law and politics of gene drives’ research, development, and possible use, with an emphasis on their potential biodiversity applications.
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Socrates Untenured: Ethics, Experts, and the Public in the Synthetic Age

C. Preston,  ISSUES in Science and Technology,  2020.
C. Preston (2020). Three tools have transformed biotechnology over the past decade and a half. Gene reading has made it possible to quickly sequence the genome of any living creature. Gene synthesis has made it possible to construct DNA sequences in the lab from constituent ...
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Public Opinion Towards Gene Drive as a Pest Control Approach for Biodiversity Conservation and the Association of Underlying Worldviews

E. A. MacDonald, J. Balanovic, E. D. Edwards, W. Abrahamse, B. Frame, A. Greenaway, R. Kannemeyer, N. Kirk, F. Medvecky, T. L. Milfont, J. C. Russell and D. M. Tompkins,  Environmental Communication-a Journal of Nature and Culture,  15:1-16. 2020.
Synthetic gene drive approaches are nascent technologies with potential applicability for pest control for conservation purposes. Responsible science mandates that society be engaged in a dialogue over new technology, particularly where there exist global ramifications as with ...
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Metaphor, Trust and Support for Non-native Species Control

P. A. Kohl, S. J. Collins and M. Eichholz,  Environmental Communication,  14:672-685. 2020.
This experimental study used a representative sample of U.S. residents (N = 1,042) to test whether the use of the term "invasive" increases support for non-native species control efforts. The term invasive had a small influence on support for two out of three non-native species ...
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Synthetic Biology: Research Needs for Assessing Environmental Impacts

C. M. Warner, S. R. Carter, R. F. Lance, F. H. Crocker, H. N. Meeks, B. L. Adams, M. L. Magnuson, T. Rycroft, K. Pokrzywinski and E. J. Perkins,  Synthetic Biology 2020: Frontiers in Risk Analysis and Governance,  2019.
Synthetic biology and its applications have the potential to greatly improve economic development, public health, environmental stewardship, technological advancement, and many other areas. In May 2017, sixty individuals gathered in Lexington, Massachusetts for a workshop ...
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Synthetic Biology and the United Nations

H.-E. Lai, C. Canavan, L. Cameron, S. Moore, M. Danchenko, T. Kuiken, Z. Sekeyová and P. S. Freemont,  Trends in Biotechnology,  37:1146-1151. 2019.
Synthetic biology is a rapidly emerging interdisciplinary field of science and engineering that aims to redesign living systems through reprogramming genetic information. The field has catalysed global debate among policymakers and publics. Here we describe how synthetic biology ...
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Biological control of pests and a social model of animal welfare

A. Mankad, U. Kennedy and L. Carter,  Journal of Environmental Management,  247:313-322. 2019.
We consider the role of perceived humaneness or, more accurately, animal welfare as it relates to managing invasive species from a scientific and social perspective. In order to highlight and articulate particular nuances and standards across different pest control contexts, we ...
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The EU regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Bruetschy, C,  Transgenic Research,  28:169-174. 2019.
The European Union (EU) legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aims to ensure a high level of protection for human, animal and environmental health and a well-functioning EU internal market. The framework regulates the release of GMOs into the environment and their ...
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Genetic frontiers for conservation: An assessment of synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation

K. H. Redford, T. Brooks, M., B. W. Nicholas and J. S. A. Macfarlane,  International Union for Conservation of Nature,  2019.
This assessment is the beginning of a process that will lead to the development of an IUCN policy to guide the Union’s Director General, Commissions, and Members. The draft policy will be discussed in many fora before it is brought to vote at the World Conservation Congress in ...
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Pest demography critically determines the viability of synthetic gene drives for population control

K. E. Wilkins, T. A. A. Prowse, P. Cassey, P. Q. Thomas and J. V. Ross,  Mathematical Biosciences,  305:160-169. 2018.
Synthetic gene drives offer a novel solution for the control of invasive alien species. CRISPR-based gene drives can positively bias their own inheritance, and comprise a DNA sequence that is replicated by homologous recombination. Since gene drives can be positioned to silence ...
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What is CRISPR?

A. Vidyasagar,  LiveScience,  2018.
CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving ...
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Report of the ad hoc technical expert group on synthetic biology

Ad Hoc Technical Working Group,  Convention on Biological Diversity,  2017.
In decision XIII/17, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity commended the work of the online forum and the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology (AHTEG) and welcomed the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the AHTEG as a ...
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Genome editing: scientific opportunities, public interests and policy options in the European Union

EASAC,  European Academies Science Advisory Council,  2017.
In many of the areas in which EASAC, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, works, where a large and solid body of knowledge is needed to inform the action of our societies, it is important to recognise that there is an intimate mix of science and values involved in ...
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A transatlantic perspective on 20 emerging issues in biological engineering

Wintle, BCB, C. R.; Rhodes, C.; Molloy, J. C.; Millett, P.; Adam, L.; Breitling, R.; Carlson, R.; Casagrande, R.; Dando, M.; Doubleday, R.; Drexler, E.; Edwards, B.; Ellis, T.; Evans, N. G.; Hammond, R.; Haseloff, J.; Kahl, L.; Kuiken, T.; Lichman, B. R.; Matthewman, C. A.; Napier, J. A.; OhEigeartaigh, S. S.; Patron, N. J.; Perello, E.; Shapira, P.; Tait, J.; Takano, E.; Sutherland, W. J.,  eLife,  6:21. 2017.
Advances in biological engineering are likely to have substantial impacts on global society. To explore these potential impacts we ran a horizon scanning exercise to capture a range of perspectives on the opportunities and risks presented by biological engineering. We first ...
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Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms and monitoring in the context of risk assessment

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management,,  Convention on Biological Diversity,  2016.
This document was developed by the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, with input from the Open-ended Online Expert Forum, in accordance with terms of reference set out by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the ...
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