The Vector Genetics Laboratory (VGL), Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis has been awarded a new grant to support their research on genetic tools for malaria control. The grant was awarded by Open Philanthropy and will help finance the lab’s research on human malaria, including genetic approaches, in the west African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP).

Insect-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue represent a major public health concern, causing more than 700 000 deaths annually. Amongst the tools used to limit their spread, some involve the use of insecticides. Insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) or indoor residual spraying, for instance, are two methods commonly used to fight malaria. Yet, the prolonged use of these interventions has caused insecticide-resistance to increase, as many insects have genetically adapted to become less susceptible to the chemicals. This reduces the efficacy of key vector-control interventions and threatens progress against these diseases.

On December 22nd and 23rd, the African Union Development Agency, AUDA-NEPAD, and the National Biosafety Authority of Senegal came together to organize an information session on gene drive technology as a complementary tool for malaria vector control in Somone, Senegal.

A new year marks a new beginning. With the start of 2022, we look back on the accomplishments of the year gone by and look forward to the promise of the new one. For the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research, 2021 kicked off in earnest with the addition of a new member, the Akbari Lab. Two further members - Advanced Conservation Strategies and Conservation X Labs – closely followed, making this a year of growth for the Network.

According to a newly released joint report published by CSIRO and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, Australia may suffer a wave of plant and animal extinctions by 2050 unless immediate action is taken to address the challenges posed by invasive alien species.