A2: Microbes in the news – Study: Gene Drive Wipes Out Lab Mosquitoes
A gene editing technique called a Gene Drive which is based on the well known CRISPR technique has been shown to be able to completely eliminate a mosquito population in the lab.
We have been learning about the various techniques used through history to prevent diseases, from antibiotics to vaccines, this represents another potential tool capable of having a similar impact.
The prevention of deadly diseases has been and continues to be one of the greatest goals of the study of microbiology and malaria is currently one of the most deadly infections still at large in the world with 219 million cases of malaria in 2017, up from 217 million cases in 2016 despite incredible continued efforts to prevent its’ spread. A commonly targeted element of the disease is the delivery method, mosquitoes. However while previous efforts have failed to slow the spread, this technique has demonstrated the potential to not just slow them but to precisely and completely eliminate an entire species.
What other populations can this be applied to? For instance, would it be appropriate to eliminate the populations of rats devastating island bird populations?