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Scientists paved the way for field trials of gene-driven organisms

The term gene drive needs to be clarified. Failure to do so risks disrupting the field, disrupting the general public, and losing technology that may help solve problems otherwise difficult in public health, conservation, and food security.Credits: Stephanie Gamez, University of California, San Diego

The recent rise of gene drive research, accelerated by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, has brought about a wave of transformation throughout science.


Developed with selected traits that have been genetically engineered to spread throughout the population, Gene Drive Organisms (GDOs) provide solutions to a variety of difficult health and environmental challenges, from control to protection of dengue and malaria. A crop against plant pests that has the power to dramatically change the way it develops.

But before these gene-drive organisms move from laboratory to field testing, scientists are proposing courses for responsible testing of this powerful technology. These issues are addressed in the new Policy Forum article on Biotechnology Governance, “Core Commitment for Field Trials of Gene Drive Organisms,” published December 18, 2020. Science By more than 40 researchers, including several scientists at the University of California, San Diego.

“Gene drives have led to rapid research, so we need to take a step back and think about its application and its impact on humankind,” said Akbari, the lead author of the article. Associate Professor, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego. “A new initiative to tackle field testing is to ensure that testing is conducted safely, transparent, publicly accountable, and scientifically, politically and socially robust.”

An interdisciplinary group of gene-driven organism developers, ecologists, and conservation biologists has joined the social sciences, ethics, and policy experts to outline some of the efforts that we consider essential to the responsible implementation of field trials. However, these technologies have been introduced to serve the public interest. ”12 core commitments have been developed under the following broad categories: Fair partnership and transparency. Product efficacy and safety; regulatory assessment and risk / benefit assessment. Surveillance and mitigation.

“Our intention is to make public policy decisions on whether and how to proceed with GDO, based on assessments carried out in fair and effective partnerships with relevant authorities and other stakeholders. It’s about contributing, “the author wrote in the article. A signature page for those who support this effort is available here.

“Given the number and variety of co-authors, this is an influential piece of work in this area and helps to set up courses for open and transparent research,” said the University of California, San Diego. Said Cinnamon Bros, an associate professor at the Herbertwertheim School in California.Public health and human life Science.. With a recently funded R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Bros led a team of researchers at UC San Diego, incorporating these core commitments into the work of community and stakeholder involvement from the early stages of proof of concept. Make sure it works. For field trials and deployments.

“As the author points out, we need to do more,” Bros said. “In particular, my co-authors and I represent primarily the North American perspective, so we need to involve stakeholders from other countries who are likely to act as test sites.”

Scientists paved the way for field trials of gene-driven organisms

A broad coalition, including scientists at the University of California, San Diego, has set up a field test effort for powerful gene drive technology. Interdisciplinary groups encourage safe, transparent and ethical exams.Credits: Stephanie Gamez, University of California, San Diego

Robert Friedman, vice president of policy and university relations at the J. Craig Venter Institute, co-author of the article, said the decisive factor behind this effort was the integration of different GDO perspectives into a cohesive voice. Said.

“The diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and involvement on this issue is very impressive,” Friedman said. “This paper contains an interdisciplinary group of developers, ecologists, ethicists, and policy professionals, so it contains a broader commitment than could have been developed in other ways. Of course, this is appropriate and necessary to move to the next important step. From the laboratory to limited field testing. “

Other co-authors of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego include Associate Professor Kimberly Cooper and Associate Professor Valentino Ganz.

“The process of working together over the past few months is invaluable, and we hope that this effort to define our common commitment will lead to even more interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of gene drive,” said the lead author. Kanya Long said. Part-time assistant professor of public health and human life sciences at the University of California, San Diego.

What exactly is a gene drive?

Relatedly, on December 8th, Akbari and several co-authors wrote an opinion piece. Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences (((PNAS) About the need to standardize the core definitions of gene drives and related terms.

Surprisingly for non-scientific people, the rapid rise of gene drive technology in recent years has emerged without a widely accepted set of definitions. Without a common consensus on gene drive-related terms, confusion and discrepancies can occur due to the development of gene drive policies and regulations. For example, the authors state that “gene drives” are used both to describe processes (biological activity of gene drives that spread within a population) and objects (development of “gene drive” engineering tools). I am.

“There are multiple types of gene drives, so it’s very difficult for non-experts to understand what we’re talking about,” said world gene drive leaders Luke Alfei (PirBright) and Andrea. Akbari, who attended with Crisanti (Imperial College London), said. Create a definition with Filippo (Fil) Randazzo (Leverage Science). “The point of the PNAS article was to bring together top-notch experts to define gene drives and provide a consistent and common language that can be used for communication.”

Working through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), Akbari said individuals and organizations that agree with the new definition criteria are becoming signatories in favor of these definitions.


Researchers have pioneered more effective ways to stop mosquito malaria infections


For more information:
KC Long et al. , “Core Commitment for Gene Drive Field Trials” Science (2020). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi… 1126 / science.abd1908

Courtesy of the University of California, San Diego

Quote: Scientists, field trial of gene-driven organisms obtained on December 17, 2020 from https: //phys.org/news/2020-12-scientists-path-field-trials-gene.html (2020) December 17th) pass set

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Scientists paved the way for field trials of gene-driven organisms

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