Aug 8, 2015

Move over, autonomous AI weapons, there’s a new risk in town: ‘gene drives’

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics, robotics/AI

Wyss Institute scientists believe that synthetic gene drives, if researched responsibly, might be used in the future to render mosquito populations unable to transmit malaria (credit: CDC)

An international group of 26 experts, including prominent genetic engineers and fruit fly geneticists, has unanimously recommended a series of preemptive measures to safeguard gene drive research from accidental (or intentional) release from laboratories.

RNA-guided gene drives are genetic elements — found naturally in the genomes of most of the world’s organisms — that increase the chance of the gene they carry being passed on to all offspring. So they can quickly spread through populations if not controlled.

Looking to these natural systems, researchers around the world, including some scientists, are developing synthetic gene drives that could one day be leveraged by humans to purposefully alter the traits of wild populations of organisms to prevent disease transmission and eradicate invasive species.

Read more

Comments are closed.