The Gene Drive Research Forum is producing a series of virtual discussions to provide a forum for stakeholders engaged in or working in the field of gene drive technologies. The first webinar “Stakeholder engagement and controversy: Lessons from the ground” will take place on February 9th. The event is co-hosted by the GBIRd partnership and the FNIH GeneConvene Global Collaborative.

Register here!

Scientists from Texas A&M University are developing a new technology for modifying mosquito genes that self-deletes genetic alterations from the insect’s genome after a specific time or a certain number of mosquito generations.

By creating a transgene capable of removing itself, the gene will not persist in the environment, contributing to the safety of field tests and risk assessment of novel tools to control malaria and other vector-borne diseases, says Professor Zack Edelman, one of the principal investigators.

Ana Kormos, Engagement Program Manager, University of California Irvine Malaria Initiative (UCIMI) 

The University of California Irvine describes their approach to engagement in a new publication that is currently available online, ahead of print publication, in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The publication titled Application of the relationship-based model to engagement for field trials of genetically engineered malaria vectors emphasizes the importance of establishing open dialogue, collaboration and relationships of trust with stakeholders and community members where field research is being conducted. The model places these groups at the center of the decision-making processes that drive every phase of research.

Invasive alien species (IAS) are key drivers of biodiversity loss worldwide, especially in islands, where they are responsible for 86% of all recorded extinctions. Scientists recognise the need for innovative methods to control IAS, and genetic tools are one of the avenues being explored.

Researchers in New Zealand conducted eleven focus groups to explore how public opinion perceives new technologies such as gene drive. Participants evaluated risks and benefits and the differences between new and current pest control methods. The groups also discussed who should be represented on a panel that assesses new tools and what factors should be considered.

The results are available at the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Researchers from Germany and Mali discovered that during the dry season, the malaria parasite enacts a genetic change that enables it to hide in an infected person’s bloodstream for months, undetected. The discovery partially explains how the disease persists at times during which almost no one falls ill and when there are few mosquitoes to carry the parasite from one human host to another.

The new study is available in the journal Nature Medicine.