Entomologists review pros, cons and regulatory issues surrounding new technology that could help halt the spread of diseases such as Zika virus, dengue fever and malaria
Engineered gene drives, which have the potential to spread desirable genes throughout wild populations or to suppress harmful species, have received a lot of recent attention because of their potential to control organisms, such as mosquitoes that carry diseases such as Zika virus, malaria and dengue fever.
At the same time, the recently discovered CRISPR gene editing technology has the potential to create, streamline and improve the development of gene drives.
In a highly innovative and technical review, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside has examined the different gene drives systems, analyzed the pros and cons of each and applications associated with them, and also surveyed the safety and regulatory issues associated with them.
“Despite all the potential benefits of gene drives, they remain understudied,” said Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology at UC Riverside. “With that in mind, and with advances occurring so quickly, we wanted to step back and take a broad look at what is happening.”
Akbari, who is also a member of UC Riverside’s Center for Disease Vector Research andInstitute for Integrative Genome Biology, is the corresponding author of the piece, “Cheating evolution: engineering gene drives to manipulate the fate of wild populations,” that was just published online in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics. The piece was co-authored by Jackson Champer and Anna Buchman, both post-doctoral students working with Akbari.
The idea of editing the genes of organisms to address biological problems related to public and environmental health has been around for decades. In fact, the authors cite a paper from 1940 and others from the late 1960s that discuss this.
Despite the wide-ranging applicability and importance of gene drives, there has been only modest development in their progress in past decades. Gene drives capable of functioning in wild populations have been created in only a few organisms, including yeast, the fruitfly and two species of mosquitoes.
This is, in part, due to the difficulty of engineering the genomes of organisms. However, recent advancements have provided tools capable of engineering the genomes of diverse species. The most promising of these tools is CRISPR.
Combining gene drives and a tool such as CRISPR may enable the development of novel strategies to reduce or eliminate insect-borne diseases, remove invasive foreign species, and even reverse the development of resistance to insecticides and herbicides, in an economically viable and environmentally friendly manner.
In the paper, the authors focus on several types of gene drives, including homing-based drives, sex-linked meiotic drives, medea and underdominance gene drives. They describe the gene drives based on different attributes, including rate of spread, species specificity, fitness cost, susceptibility to resistance,removability and reversibility.
They also discuss whether the gene drives are classified as ‘modification drive’ types, which are designed to spread through a population carrying desirable traits, or as ‘suppression drive’ types, which have the effect of reducing the population of a target species.
Finally, the authors address safety and regulation. They mention dangers associated with gene drives, including the potential to cause extinctions, to spread outside a geographical area or traverse into another species and the potential misuse to cause economic damage or even bioterrorism.
Learn more: Engineered Gene Drives and the Future
The Latest on: Engineered gene drives
via Google News
The Latest on: Engineered gene drives
- Fighting disease: How are genetically engineered mosquitoes regulated?on July 8, 2021 at 7:51 am
This project is controversial,” says Tapsoba, who is president of the organization Terre à Vie In Canada, genetically engineered mosquitoes, whether they include “gene drive” technology ...
- West African countries working together to develop framework to regulate genetically engineered mosquitos: Target Malariaon July 8, 2021 at 7:00 am
Watch West African countries working together to develop framework to regulate genetically engineered mosquitos: Target Malaria Video Online, on GlobalNews.ca ...
- Scientists develop new technology that gives greater control for managing malaria mosquitoeson July 6, 2021 at 6:49 am
Researchers including a Keele University scientist have engineered an innovative approach ... of a research team that previously developed gene drive technologies that proved highly effective ...
- CRISPR Gene Editing Newson July 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm
2021 — Scientists have developed a gene drive with a built-in genetic barrier that is designed to keep the drive under control. The researchers engineered synthetic fly species that, upon release in ...
- Probiotic ‘yeast robots’ may one day treat IBDon July 4, 2021 at 1:00 am
Researchers have developed a “designer” probiotic that might, one day, treat various facets of IBD, including inflammation and tissue damage.
- Potential drug target for difficult-to-treat breast cancer: RNA-binding proteinson July 1, 2021 at 9:00 pm
UC San Diego studies using human cell lines and tumors grown in mice provide early evidence that inhibiting RNA-binding proteins, a previously overlooked family of molecules, might provide a new ...
- Could editing the genomes of bats prevent future coronavirus pandemics? Two scientists think it’s worth a tryon July 1, 2021 at 1:45 am
This appears to be the first time that scientists have proposed using the still-nascent gene drive technology to stop coronavirus outbreaks.
- GPA urges FG to ban GMO foods, gene drive products, otherson June 30, 2021 at 11:01 pm
demand that ‘no releases of genetically-engineered gene drive organisms should be allowed, including for nature conservation purposes, in line with the precautionary principle.’ The National ...
via Bing News