Modeling CRISPR/CAS9 gene drive reduction of schistosomiasis by Richard Grewelle

Richard Grewelle

Stanford | William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation

​Richard Grewelle works to integrate genetics in epidemiological and conservation efforts. He is presenting an evaluation of the use of CRISPR/CAS9-mediated gene drive technology to eliminate schistosomiasis infection in human populations.

ABSTRACT

Elimination of schistosomiasis has been elusive due to the persistence of the schistosome parasite in snail populations even after drug treatment in humans. Coincident treatment in snails found in nearby water bodies is required, and recent development of CRISPR/CAS9-mediated gene drive technology provides a way to increase genetically-based immunity in the snail population. An integrated genetic and epidemiological model provides a suite of scenarios which are favorable and unfavorable to the use of gene drive immunity in snails. Low self-fertilization rates, low gene flow, and highly endemic areas allow rapid spread of immunity. Coincident yearly drug and gene drive treatment allows sustained elimination of disease, while drug treatment alone does not. In silico modeling is essential to inform progress in this technology for schistosomiasis treatment, and this framework serves as a template for other gene drive feasibility studies.

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