The Akbari Lab is the latest group of scientists to join the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research. Based at the University of California - San Diego (UCSD), members of the Akbari Lab are currently researching a range of genetic approaches to help control pests and diseases, such as dengue and malaria.
Gene drive is one of their areas of research, but team members are also investigating other strategies, such as sterile male and other self-limiting approaches, which could suit different situation and needs. Self-limiting approaches could provide useful options to tackle diseases in some contexts, and also offer an important way to implement the “step by step” approach recommended for the development of gene drive organisms.
The lab is focused on laboratory research at this stage and it contributes to the work of several consortiums and teams, such as the Tata Institute for Science and Society. It is also building partnerships with researchers in other countries who are exploring new options for tackling disease vectors, such as in French Polynesia.
The lab recently also contributed to broader efforts to ensure gene drive research is carried out responsibly. Along with 40 other researchers, Akbari outlined his views in a paper published in Science and entitled “Core commitments for field trials of gene drive organisms”.
You can read more about their work here and follow @Omar_Akbari_ on Twitter for the latest updates.