Tata Trust announced that its India Health Fund (IHF) has begun a nationwide search for innovations towards eliminating malaria in India. The initiative, called Malaria Quest, is particularly looking for innovative methods of vector control and personal protection as well as for technologies that can provide accurate estimates of risk and disease burden. Other priority areas are detection and diagnosis of malaria cases and improvement of logistical modalities and quality assurance of malaria consumables.

A recent article published by the journal Nature explores different applications of gene drive technology for public health and environmental conservation purposes. Gene drive has the potential to defeat vector-borne diseases and control pests, according to the publication. However, scientists are aware of its technical challenges and still working to respond to questions such as the potential risks to ecosystems and human health. The piece highlights that scientists are aware of the many technical challenges that gene drive research presents and are still working to respond to many questions.

Written by Samantha O’Loughlin, Target Malaria

(This is the five of a series of six posts about common gene drive misconceptions)

In my work as a population genetics expert for Target Malaria, more often than not I am asked about the possibility of misusing gene drive technology, and especially if it could be leveraged for bioterrorism.

Gene drive systems are not like an infection; they work in a very targeted way and can only spread to offspring through mating. This means that gene drives can only be used in plants and animals, not bacteria or viruses. In addition, gene drive would have a very slow impact on an organism with a long generation time, such as humans.

Written by Samantha O’Loughlin, Target Malaria

(This is the fourth of a series of six posts about common gene drive misconceptions)

Gene drive can become a useful tool to reduce biodiversity loss and control vector-borne diseases. In the process of researching gene drive, we’re not only looking at the benefits (i.e. what it could do that would be useful) but also we’re trying to understand the potentials risks involved, including the impacts they may have on other species.

All coral reefs will virtually disappear by the end of this century if temperatures rise 2oC in comparison to pre-industrial levels, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The fact that rising global temperatures and ocean acidification pose major threats to coral reefs worldwide is not new. However, scientists are looking for solutions beyond the usual reduction of water pollution, fishing and tourism or even invasive species eradication.