By Luke Alphey, Alphey Lab, University of York

Research on gene drive technologies as a tool to control mosquitoes that are vectors of disease has produced promising results. Although field trials are likely still some way off, researchers have for example been able to develop efficient gene drive systems in the mosquitoes Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles gambiae, which are both vectors of malaria.

However, attempts to develop similarly efficient gene drive systems in the Aedes aegypti mosquito – which transmits dengue, Zika and yellow fever – have so far proven challenging. While studies in this realm have provided proof-of-principle, they have also demonstrated the need to improve efficiency of the underlying molecular components before these tools could be considered for practical implementation.