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ナンタケット島で進められている研究

 
もう2週間も前のNew Yorkerの記事になってしまいました(汗)渡辺由佳利さんのSNSに親しんでいる人ならマサチューセッツ州にあるナンタケット島を何度も目にしていますよね。そこである研究がされているそうです。

REWRITING THE CODE OF LIFE
Through DNA editing, researchers hope to alter the genetic destiny of species and eliminate diseases.
By Michael Specter


ナンタケット島に生息する人もかかるライム病という感染症を保菌するwhite-footed mouse(シロアシネズミ)に対し、遺伝子ドライブでライム病を持たないネズミを島全体に放してライム病を根絶しようとする取り組みのようです。

Esvelt has spoken about Lyme dozens of times in the past year, not just on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard but at forums around the world, from a synthetic-biology symposium in Chile to President Obama’s White House Frontiers Conference, in Pittsburgh. At every appearance, Esvelt tells the audience that he wants his two young children—he has a three-year-old son and a daughter who is almost one—to grow up in a Lyme-free world. But that’s not really why he speaks at infectious-disease meetings, entomology conventions, and international conservation workshops. He has embarked on a mission that he thinks is far more important.

Esvelt and his colleagues were the first to describe, in 2014, how the revolutionary gene-editing tool crispr could combine with a natural phenomenon known as a gene drive to alter the genetic destiny of a species. Gene drives work by overriding the traditional rules of Mendelian inheritance. Normally, the progeny of any sexually reproductive organism receives half its genome from each parent. But since the nineteen-forties biologists have been aware that some genetic elements are “selfish”: evolution has bestowed on them a better than fifty-per-cent chance of being inherited. That peculiarity makes it possible for certain characteristics to spread with unusual speed.

Until crispr came along, biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation. A mutation that blocked the parasite responsible for malaria, for instance, could be engineered into a mosquito and passed down every time the mosquito reproduced. Each future generation would have more offspring with the trait until, at some point, the entire species would have it.


gene driveについては下記のナショジオの記事などは日英で読めます。

Genetic Engineering to the Rescue Against Invasive Species?
Scientists call for a public discussion on development of emerging "gene drive" technology.

By Katie Langin, National Geographic
PUBLISHED JULY 18, 2014


遺伝子工学で外来種を駆除
2014.07.22

まあ、このあたりは遺伝子研究の方向性として予測できる感じだったのですが、さらにこの研究者がユニークなところは自分の研究を全てオープンにしているところ。

At the meeting on Nantucket, Esvelt assured residents that he and his team fully understood the implications of manipulating the basic elements of life. He said that he regards himself not just as a biologist but as the residents’ agent; if they stop showing interest in the research, he will stop the experiments. He also insists that he will work with absolute openness: every e-mail, grant application, data set, and meeting record will be available for anyone to see. Intellectual property is often the most coveted aspect of scientific research, and Esvelt’s would be posted on a Web site. And no experiment would be conducted unless it was approved in advance—not just by scientists but by the people it is most likely to affect. “By open, I mean all of it,” Esvelt said, to murmurs of approval. “If Monsanto”—which, fairly or not, has become a symbol of excessive corporate control of agricultural biotechnology—“did something one way,” he said, “we will do it the opposite way.”

近頃言われているオープンサイエンスをさらにラディカルに進めた感じでしょうか。
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