Technology: Gene Drives

A powerful gene mutation technology branded “gene drive” by Harvard scientists can be used to essentially “edit” genes in wild organisms.  The technology can be used to manipulate nature by changing a species gene pool through reproduction.  Dr. Kenneth Oye of Massachusetts Institute of Technology states, “Gene drives cheat, they play a game.  They bias inheritance so the odds of the gene being passed on are raised substantially.” The possibilities of this technology are endless; gene drive has allowed researches to block mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria and it can alter ticks to reduce to spread of Lyme disease.  It has the potential to completely alter an entire population of a species, so scientists are proceeding with caution. If something goes wrong, scientists must create a second drive that will undo the alteration and restore the original gene sequence.  Therefore, this technology is still in its developmental stages until a plan B is developed.

Contributor: Chelsea Edirisuriya

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