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Researchers to release first-ever genetically engineered mosquitoes in Africa - STAT

🔒 www.statnews.com

This headline caught my attention, and it’s actually using gene drive technology.

Teams in three African countries — Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda — are building the groundwork to eventually let loose gene drive” mosquitoes, which would contain a mutation that would significantly and quickly reduce the mosquito population. Genetically engineered mosquitoes have already been released in places like Brazil and the Cayman Islands, though animals with gene drives have never been released in the wild.

That immediately reminded me of one of the most memorable passages from A Crack in Creation, the story of CRISPR.

CRISPR gene drives, by contrast, are self-sustaining; since the mode of inheritance appears to outsmart natural selection, the modified insects propagate and pass on their defective traits indefinitely. This thoroughness is what makes gene drives so powerful—and so alarming. It’s been estimated that, had a fruit fly escaped the San Diego lab during the first gene drive experiments, it would have spread genes encoding CRISPR, along with the yellow-body trait, to between 20 and 50 percent of all fruit flies worldwide.

This population of mosquitos being released are 99% male, so there shouldn’t be any risk.

Posted on September 9, 2018

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