Scientists have used CRISPR (a tool for the genome editing) to influence the speed of inheritance of certain traits in animals. The method is known as "a gene drive".
The artificially-initiated process of inheritance has already been demonstrated; however ? these were insects, not animals, subject to it only a few years ago. This controversial strategy has shown the possibility for rapidly spreading certain traits amidst the entire species. Finally, the promising results have raised hope for the potential application of lethal genes to eradicate such pests as malaria-carrying mosquitoes, among others.
However, the object of current research is to devise new strains of lab mice, not to eradicate wild populations. Paul Thomas - a molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide in Australia who is working on experiments of a similar nature - describes it as a significant first step towards the development of gene-drive technologies and inheritance control. However, there also exist opinions that such gene drive could be let out into the environment, due to which is should be equipped with a special "switch". It could allow for the eradication of a specific animal before it begins to reproduce and spread the artificially-initiated inheritance.
In the meantime, researchers point out that it is too early to speak of any applications of the "gene drive" to reduce populations of invasive rodents in the natural environment. The notion of efficiency improvement is currently posing the greatest challenges for this method.