Regulating 'Gene Drives'
Members of the Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET) team are calling for thoughtful, well-informed, public discussions to explore the responsible use of gene drive technology in two recently published articles.
Imagine a scientific technique that would alter the genes of mosquitos to render them unable to transmit malaria. Scientists have made notable progress in recent years in editing the genomes of organisms, substituting in variants of certain genes; these variants could then propagate throughout a population. Gene drives are a method for spreading altered traits through wild popultations over many generations. Such gene drives could potentially prevent the spread of diseases, support agriculture by reversing pesticide and herbicide resistance in insects and weeds, and control damaging invasive species.
The concept of gene drives has been around for more than a decade but has remained theoretical due to technical limitations. However, with the recent development of CRISPR-Cas9 RNA technology, gene drives now represent a more realistic possibility. The benefits of such technology must also be weighed against its risks. The possibility of unwanted ecological effects and the likelihood of spread across political borders demand careful assessment of each potential application.
Access the articles by clicking on the links below:
Regulating Gene Drives
Kenneth Oye, Kevin Esvelt, Evan Appleton, Flaminia Catteruccia, George Church, Todd Kuiken, Shlomiya Bar-Yam Lightfoot, Julie McNamara, Andrea Smidler, & James P. Collins
Concerning RNA-guided gene drives for the alteration of wild populations
Kevin M Esvelt, Andrea L Smidler, Flaminia Catteruccia, George M Church
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