Scientists can now use a technique called a ‘gene driver’ to rapidly modify the genetics of a species such as a mosquito. These modifications can prevent mosquitoes from passing on diseases such as malaria, Zika or dengue fever. There is, however, international concern on the risks of releasing these modified mosquitoes into the world.
Claudia Emerson, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Director of McMaster’s Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation, and her group are working with partners worldwide including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in the US and the Wellcome Trust in the UK to lead the creation of principles for genetic manipulation.
Dr. Emerson has recently published a paper on establishing guiding principles that has the support of 13 major funders of gene drive research.