Researchers are exploring the use of the revolutionary gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to fight human disease and agricultural blight. But a study from Indiana University has found several challenges to the method’s use in saving lives and crops. The research, reported today in the journal Science Advances, combines advanced genetic and statistical analyses to show how certain genetic and behavioral qualities in disease-carrying insects, like mosquitoes, make these species resistant to genetic manipulation. This resistance could complicate attempts to use CRISPR-Cas9 in the fight against malaria, a deadly mosquito-borne disease that threatens over 3 billion people worldwide, or crop blights such as the western corn rootworm, an invasive species that costs the U.S. about $1 billion in lost crops each year.
From Indiana University Photo Credit John Vlahakis