Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gene Janitors: New Project Seeks to Clean up Genes in Nature

The Pentagon is opening a new project in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) that will focus on methods to clean up genetic spills. But what’s the point, don’t organisms “spill” their genetic material in the form of skin cells or hair follicles all the time? Well of course, but the genes that Safe Genes (the name of the project) will be dealing will are engineered genes that are thought to have a negative impact on the environment. The hope is to produce controlled methods for containing these genes in the wild in order to reduce the amount of disease carrying insects and pests. The ideal timeline would drastically decrease these things in under 20 generations.
With so many tools available to edit genomes, systems are rising to try to control the effects of gene editing. Gene drive technologies (that use genetically enhanced organisms to control harmful phenotypes) are being examined to identify potential methods of control such as tissue specific editing systems or tiny antibodies that genetically arm target organisms to inhibit the spread of undesired or altered genotypes.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to see a new project open to try and cleanse "genetic spills". It seems like it would be very hard to completely get rid of genes that have a negative impact on the species.