Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Still Work to Do

There's still a lot to be sorted out before gene drives can be used in the field, a workshop hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says.

According to ScienceInsider, there's still scientific and regulatory uncertainty surrounding the use of gene drives. With the development of CRISPR/Cas9 technology, gene drives have been suggested as a means for spreading wanted traits through a population. For instance, Harvard University's George Church and his colleagues have said that gene drives could be used to control invasive species or prevent the spread of disease. And, ScienceInsider notes, this past year researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that they could spread a pigmentation gene through nearly all of a population of lab fruit flies.

But, this approach also raises concerns.

"It's pretty clear we know so little about these systems," Zach Adelman, a molecular geneticist at Virginia Tech, says.

NAS developed a committee to evaluate the technology and is holding a series of workshops to discuss it. At last week's meeting, researchers noted that is use is limited to sexually reproducing species and would only give timely results in populations that have short generation times, according to ScienceInsider. Researchers also wondered how their use would influence other species, including closely related species, and noted that promising failsafe approaches also rely on gene drive technology and might be susceptible to whatever error would trigger the use of such a failsafe.

Some researchers said that current recombinant DNA regulations should be sufficient to oversee gene drive use, but others argue that new regulations will be needed.

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.