Gene drive’s fatal flaw could become its biggest advantage

mosquito zika

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Gene drives have worked in the lab, but have many ethical, technical and other hurdles to overcome before they could be released in the wild. For instance, many scientists, environmentalists and policy makers are concerned that gene drives could wipe out entire species or have unintended consequences for ecosystems.

[In fact,] “resistance” to gene drives will arise “almost inevitably,” [geneticist] Philipp Messer [said].

[However,] Messer thinks letting [gene drives] break could prevent runaway spread and unintended harm.


Even if gene drive‒killing mutations arise, they typically would only propagate at the normal rate[.] The slow spread means it will take many generations before resistance mutations become frequent enough in the population to stop a gene drive’s roll, Messer…calculated.

Researchers may be able to devise strategies to orchestrate spread of a gene drive while keeping it in check by manipulating conditions that favor resistance mutations, Messer said. With such a system, disease-carrying mosquitoes or other pests could be reduced to safe levels in a local area without destroying the species entirely.

Read full, original post: Seeing the upside in gene drives’ fatal flaw

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