Comment by Ricarda Steinbrecher on Kyrou et al 2018 in Nature Biotechnology: Gene drives breakthrough needs urgent restraint


A research development that crashed a population of caged mosquitoes could enable elimination of non-target species, says Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher

Gene drive researchers associated with Target Malaria and funded by US DARPA, the GATES Foundation and the UK BBSRC have just managed to crash a population of caged mosquitoes after 7-11 generations.

This is a first, and it has brought this technology beyond the proof of principle. However, in their effort to avoid any resistance to the gene drive, they have focused on a highly stable, ‘conserved’ and vital gene that is found in many species, especially closely related mosquito species. This could enable the gene drive to eliminate populations of multiple non-target species, with very serious implications indeed for biodiversity and ecosystems.

We begin by explaining something about gene drives before focusing on what is different about this latest research just published by Kyrou et al. 2018 in Nature Biotechnology.

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