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Gene drive could extinguish diseases like malaria by wiping out mosquitoes

| | December 21, 2016

The lab is buzzing with hundreds of mosquitoes. “Everything in this cubicle is genetically modified,” [says Andrew Hammond, a genetic engineer at Imperial College London], pointing to the container of mosquitoes.

What makes these insects unusual is the way Hammond and his colleagues are modifying them. They’re using a particularly potent type of genetic engineering called a “gene drive.”

“These gene drives, they’re able to copy themselves. So instead of half of the offspring inheriting the gene drive, almost all of them do,” Hammond says.

The technology is so powerful that Hammond and his colleagues are hopeful they can do something humanity has been trying to do for decades: Wipe out malaria.

But critics worry gene drives are just too powerful and could easily produce unintended consequences.

“We are fully aware of people’s concerns on this,” says molecular biologist Tony Nolan, Hammond’s supervisor…But, he says, the potential for improving public health is substantial. “We’ve got to weigh up the benefits whenever you consider risks…I think it’s a worthwhile goal to investigate this technology.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: To Fight Malaria, Scientists Try Genetic Engineering To Wipe Out Mosquitoes

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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