In a recently published article, the World Health Organization recognized the need for the development of novel approaches and continued research to accelerate progress in the fight against malaria. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease which is spread through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Since this discovery was made by Sir Ronald Ross in 1897, the fight against the disease has increasingly relied on controlling the insect vectors that transmit it. For decades after World War II, indoor residual spraying (IRS) was the only vector-control strategy used to protect people against mosquitoes. It was not until the 2000s that insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) were added to the malaria toolbox. Over the years, these two strategies have been deployed globally and remarkable gains have been made in the fight against malaria between 2000-2015.

Genetic biocontrol is an approach that relies on genetic modification to control populations of species that threaten public health and biodiversity. This is a growing field of research that brings together researchers to develop innovative technologies and systems designed to manage parasite-transmitting mosquitoes and invasive species that threaten local ecosystems.

The “New Biological Platforms for Affecting Phenotype Changes for Control” conference is a unique opportunity to learn more about genetic biocontrol and its applications, potential benefits, and the future course of research.

By Carolina Torres Trueba, Island Conservation

The resumed sessions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Geneva came to a successful conclusion on March 29. The meeting convened three bodies: the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical And Technological Advice (SBSTTA-24), the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3) and the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3). Discussions focused mainly on issues related to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). Once adopted, the GBF will provide a global strategy with which Parties to the Convention can draw up their own national agendas for biodiversity and conservation.

By Dr Marceline (Lina) Finda, Ifakara Health Institute

In a recent Twitter conversation hosted by Gene Convene, my colleague Dr Fredros Okumu and I were invited to share insights from our latest survey of African stakeholders focusing on gene drive approaches for malaria control.

According to the 2021 World Malaria Report, Africa continues to shoulder the heaviest malaria burden globally, with over 90% of global malaria cases and deaths recorded on the continent. Although progress has been made against the disease since 2000, this remains uneven, due to a number of different factors, including growing resistance to some of the current interventions. Transformational tools such as gene drive approaches have the potential to address some of these challenges and help speed up malaria control and elimination efforts. Researchers have been exploring the potential of gene drive applications to limit the spread of diseases, particularly those spread by insect vectors, such as malaria, for a long time.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will resume negotiations from March 14 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a guiding document that sets forward an ambitious plan to halt and reverse global biodiversity loss by 2050, will be the main focus of the agenda. However, three CBD bodies are convening on this occasion: the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical And Technological Advice (SBSTTA-24), the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3) and the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3).