DEC 06, 2015 10:22 AM PST

Using Gene Drives To Eliminate Insect-borne Diseases


The term "gene drives" refers to the ability of specific genes to "drive" themselves as well as nearby genes through populations over many generations. These genetic elements are able to spread even if they reduce the fitness of individual organisms. The gene drive concept was first introduced in 2003 by Austin Burt of the Imperial College of London where he proposed that gene drives could be used to alter or suppress certain traits in wild populations.

Gene drives have the ability to benefit human health by altering insect populations that spread disease including malaria, dengue and Lyme disease, so that they can no longer spread these diseases to humans. For example, research published in PNAS describes how scientists used gene drive to ensure that an engineered mosquito would pass on malaria resistance genes to nearly all of its offspring. Although gene drives show great promise for eradicating disease, they remain controversial due to the potential they hold for altering entire ecosystems. Much more research needs to be done before genetically engineered species are released into the environment.

Sources: Risk Bites; Harvard University; Sculpting Evolution; Nature
About the Author
  • I am a postdoctoral researcher with interests in pre-harvest microbial food safety, nonthermal food processing technologies, zoonotic pathogens, and plant-microbe interactions. My current research projects involve the optimization of novel food processing technologies to reduce the number of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce. I am a food geek!
You May Also Like
OCT 30, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 30, 2018
The Science Behind Cat Landings
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old wives’ tale that cats always land on four feet, and while they do most of the time, there’s a lot more t...
NOV 03, 2018
Videos
NOV 03, 2018
Why Does Your Tooth Hurt Biting into Candies?
After Halloween, eating so much candy and not following good hygiene protocols may cause cavities. However, what makes chomping onto a chocolate bar (or ot...
NOV 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 26, 2018
Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infections in Tattoos
Contracting an infection when getting a tattoo is always a major concern. Consumers should be aware of the risk of developing infections with bloodborne pa...
NOV 25, 2018
Videos
NOV 25, 2018
What If Earth Spun the Other Way?
If once upon a time the Earth spun the other way—the seasons wouldn’t change because of the Earths tilt. But, what would change is the climate ...
NOV 29, 2018
Videos
DEC 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 05, 2018
SpaceX Launches International Space Station Resupply Mission
On Wednesday, Elon Musk-owned SpaceX launched its 20th rocket of 2018 to send a fresh batch of supplies to the International Space Station. The rocket blas...
Loading Comments...