Gene Drive Supplement

Gene Drive Research: Laboratory Tests and Field Trials Are Complementary, Says Experts

October 26, 2022

A video released by the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research explains the importance of field trials for the research and development process of gene drive tools. Scientists highlight that carrying out field trials is vital to ensure gene drive organisms are effective and safe, as it is impossible to reproduce accurately environmental conditions in laboratory settings.

In his interview, Mamadou Coulibaly, Principal Investigator for Target Malaria Mali, affirms that field trials are essential, especially in Africa, where the ecology is different from one country to another, and the transmission of the parasite can also vary amongst regions. Field trials complement laboratory tests, as they generate more data to support subsequent phases of the study, including from a stakeholder engagement and acceptability of the technology perspectives.

Robyn Raban, Research Data Analyst at The Akbari Lab in the University of California San Diego, also emphasized that field tests provide the data needed for assessing and planning of larger-scale trials. In practice, field tests should determine whether the study should move forward based on performance and safety issues. While laboratory trials are also essential, they do not exactly reflect the complex and highly variable conditions of the field.

Experts conclude that field trials can lead to more responsible research on the performance and safety of gene drive technologies, while also contributing to the development of predictive models of gene drive behavior.

Watch the video at the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research.

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