Naturally occurring gene drive systems rig the inheritance game and cause some genes to be preferentially inherited, “driving” them out into the population. CRISPR gene-editing tools can be used to create a gene drive in the lab, enabling scientists to promote the inheritance of desired traits over undesirable ones. This opens up the possibility of using this technology to address urgent humanitarian problems, including the spread of insect-borne diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, and Zika. But the potential risks mean that it is crucial that officials develop and enforce safety protocols for employing this technology.
Presented by Dr. George M. Church, Professor, Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Health Sciences & Technology, Harvard-MIT