Gene Drive Supplement

Lessons Learned from Target Malaria to Help Guide Future Gene Drive Strategies

February 23, 2022

Target Malaria is a not-for-profit consortium investigating the potential of gene drive technology to help control the population of malaria's vector mosquito. With few guidelines on the best practices available about gene drive, the consortium shares its experiences in engaging with the local communities of their selected sites to promote the technology's transparency and acceptability.

The main concerns of engagement addressed by Target Malaria are who to engage, when to engage, and how to do it. By addressing these questions, they came up with an effective strategy that encourages the inclusion and participation of local communities in their sites. Their strategy is guided by the following principles that provide ethical structures for decision-making:

  • Give priority to the most ethically relevant groups. Conducting dialogues with local communities helps identify these groups.
  • Form co-development with these groups by making them feel that they are part of the decision-making process.
  • Engagement should be conducted by the research group representatives instead of a third-party representative.
  • Engagement is a continuous process that should begin early and should be sustained throughout the process.

In addition, dialogue is also an effective tool to ensure that there is a common understanding among stakeholders about which communities will be impacted by the technology and how they are prioritized in the engagement process. The principles above will be useful in refining strategies to accommodate wider geographic areas and a larger number of participants as the use of gene drive technology expands to enhance public health research and applications in the future.

Read the full details of Target Malaria's experiences in the Malaria Journal.

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