Genetically Engineered Mice May Slow Spread of Lyme Disease

Genetically Engineered Mice May Slow Spread of Lyme Disease

A novel idea in the fight against Lyme disease has recently emerged from MIT.Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary biologist at MIT, approached the problem of Lyme disease by looking at the most common “reservoir host” – the white footed mouse, and seeking to make mice immune genetically.

Currently ticks feed on rodents with the bacteria and become infected before infecting humans. Esvelt has proposed using a new genome-engineering tool to create mice that are immune to the Lyme-causing pathogen and/or the protein in tick’s saliva to break the cycle of transmission.

The idea may be tried soon on the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts where 40% of the island residents have been infected. The island residents have been divided over the idea of culling or permanently removing the deer population – a technique that has been used successfully in other island communities.

I think the idea has merit but as one step in a much more aggressive approach. Here in Florida the communities are routinely fumigated to control mosquito populations so why can’t the same be done for ticks?

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2 Responses to Genetically Engineered Mice May Slow Spread of Lyme Disease

  1. Laura says:

    here is the problem with aerial spraying for bugs –
    The Link Between Mosquito Spraying and Autism, Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlin April 30, 2016

    In areas where there is spraying for mosquitos, it is associated with a 25% increased risk for autism in children.

    • Jenna Seaver says:

      I know there are terrible side effects, however, even cancer is preferable to Lyme disease in my opinion. I realize that opinion is greatly debated but people with chronic Lyme suffer in excruciating pain and are for the large part unable to function in society. Autism is a devastating disease but many can function and it is not physically painful (that we know of). There are also many studies that link autism to Lyme disease so the spraying seems worth it to me.

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