A gene drive is a genetic engineering technique that efficiently “drives” an introduced DNA sequence to become inherited by all its offspring. There is great interest in gene drives with the advent of CRISPR technologies, which simplify some of the technical aspects of this approach. However – the issues are far from simple when it comes to using gene drives in natural populations. NPR covers some of the scientific and ethical debates in their article, “Powerful Gene Drive Can Quickly Change an Entire Species.”
In 2014, writer Carl Zimmer tackled the subject in the New York Times, focusing on the possibilities of using gene drives to fight malaria by creating mosquitos with genes that confer resistance to infection by the malaria parasite. “A Call to Fight Malaria One Mosquito at a Time.”
With optimism for improving human health, there are also deep concerns about how to assess possible ecological impacts of an emerging technology such as gene drives. pgEd is pleased to announce we are hosting a Congressional briefing in Washington DC on November 17th, 2015, and our panel will be discussing CRISPR and gene drives, among other topics, and the need for education and public engagement around the scientific and ethical questions. Click here for more information.