Biotech Updates

Guidelines Expanded for Arthropod Gene Drive Research

December 1, 2021

The American Committee of Medical Entomology (ACME) of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene has responded to the lack of standard guidance on the risk assessment and containment decisions on gene drive-modified arthropods through the publication of an addendum to the Arthropod Containment Guidelines. The addendum provides more specific recommendations on containment practices for arthropods modified with engineered transgenes capable of gene drive.

The new approach proposes a risk-based approach. The guidance recommends a new Arthropod Containment Level 2+ (ACL 2+) that expands the existing ACL 2 guidelines that was previously endorsed for other genetically modified vectors. The new guidelines will focus on additional considerations like restrictions to laboratory access, segregation of workspaces, strain verification and other best practices. Questions will be also imposed to address risk assessment to help biosafety officials make the distinction among the genetically modified vectors. The guidelines will also include specific advice on facility design and security, arthropod handling, containment monitoring, training, and response in the escape of a modified arthropod.

The guidelines will help address concerns regarding the lack of guidance on gene drive vectors risk assessment and management due to limited availability of environmental and health safety data on the technology that can cause the uneven application of containment measures among institutions and decreased public confidence on the technology and its research. ACME's contribution by amending the guidelines can help safeguard the integrity of new gene drive research and strategies.

Read the editorial article published by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene to learn more.

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