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What can be done if a gene drive engineered organism is accidentally released to nature?

2 answers


    Luckily, gene drives can be reverted. One would need to release another gene drive that disables the first one. (this is just a test answer, dont know if this is correct) 

    1. Kevin Esvelt

      Essentially yes - this is why all laboratories building gene drive systems that are candidates for eventual release should always build an "immunizing reversal drive" at the same time.

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    An "immunizing reversal drive" can be used to overwrite any unwanted changes caused by an earlier gene drive.  Releasing one such drive should be able to reverse the problematic trait in essentially all cases; releasing two in succession could restore the exact original sequence plus the CRISPR genes required for gene drive.  Immunizing reversal drives can perfectly undo changes made to population of organisms, those changes might have had effects on other species and consequently altered the ecosystem in ways that can't be undone.  Like so many things involving gene drives, it will depend on the species and the nature of the original change.

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