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lymegreen
06-09-2016, 06:43 PM
Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary biologist at MIT, has conjured up an interesting way to combat Lyme disease. Instead of dealing with ticks that carry the pathogen, his method involves genetically engineering mice (using CRISPR) to become immune to the illness. See, deer ticks originally get the pathogen from small mammals such as white-footed mice. By creating rodents that are immune to the disease, scientists can prevent it from spreading to deer and to humans. According to The New York Times, Esvelt has recently presented his solution to the residents of Nantucket, Massachusetts, which has a Lyme disease problem.

If you want to read the full article, simply search for the subject line in your preferred search engine.

Pretty awesome that scientists are finding these links and possible ways of fighting Lyme!

Azrile
06-09-2016, 07:20 PM
If you want to read the full article, simply search for the subject line in your preferred search engine.

Pretty awesome that scientists are finding these links and possible ways of fighting Lyme!

You would also have to create a way to make it dominant to other types of mice in the area. And that could cause ripple effects if those mice are a major source of food for some higher up animal. This is the type of stuff we did in Florida that lead to native species becoming extinct in a generation.

We are currently doing something similar against Malaria, Dengue and Zika in South America. They are introducing a mosquito with major defects that canīt carry these virus, but these mosquitos are better than the native mosquitos. But while these diseases are terrible, we still donīt know what will happen if we drastically reduce the population of mosquitos.

zerthi
06-12-2016, 04:59 PM
I think they already thought about the impact in ecosystem by introducing genetically engineered mice into the wilderness. Since is already a local specie, put other mice
will only lead to a gene modification given these ones
outlive those that are not genetically modified.

lymegreen
06-12-2016, 05:20 PM
You would also have to create a way to make it dominant to other types of mice in the area. And that could cause ripple effects if those mice are a major source of food for some higher up animal. This is the type of stuff we did in Florida that lead to native species becoming extinct in a generation.

We are currently doing something similar against Malaria, Dengue and Zika in South America. They are introducing a mosquito with major defects that canīt carry these virus, but these mosquitos are better than the native mosquitos. But while these diseases are terrible, we still donīt know what will happen if we drastically reduce the population of mosquitos.

That's a very good point - I don't have that much of a scientific brain so I just took the article I read on face value that it would be helping. Never thought about the fact it may make species extinct in a generation or things like that.

I appreciate the insight as it certainly sounds like you have done quite a bit of reading on the topic! :)

Azrile
06-12-2016, 08:55 PM
When I was a kid I was infactuated with the concept of Recombinant DNA, which is basically what viruses do, they insert their own DNA into normal DNA and allow the host to reproduce the ībab īvirus for them. Humans began using this in the 1980s and all this stuff is based around it. I also read a lot about the introduction of non-native species into their unnatural environments and how often humans play God and get this stuff wrong. Everything from moths, Pythons were accidental, but there are also cases like scallops in the great lakes, coyotes in the NW USA and a bunch of others were humans put stuff somewhere and then just screwed over the ecosystem because they didnīt see the trickle-down effects. You have both food chain changes as well as competition for food changes. For instance, suppose this rat is a food source for something, but that something now starts eating something else, which causes the previous predator of that new food to go extinct. Humans are too arrogant in this regard.

pwarbi
06-13-2016, 12:14 PM
Another thing to look out for when it comes to using animals to test on, is the fact that no matter something might react with an animal, that doesn't always necessarily mean it will have the same effect on us humans.

There's always a certain amount of caution when scientists are looking into research such as this, because even they know that while things might look promising on paper, that doesn't always transfer to real life situations.

oportosanto
06-14-2016, 03:56 AM
Exactly, testing on animals doesn't mean it will work on people.

lymegreen
06-14-2016, 05:02 PM
@pwarbi I hear you - it's something that I think would require pretty extensive research before it could be applied to humans. I'm appreciative for everyone's responses - both about the testing from animals to humans and the application, to thinking about the way things apply to the wider animal kingdom. Part of the reason I love being on the forum here as it helps me think about things differently!

oportosanto
06-15-2016, 03:32 AM
Great news, hopefully it's something we can transport into people too!

Azrile
06-15-2016, 10:50 PM
I think people are misunderstanding what they are actually doing. They are not doing tests on mice in hopes that it someday leads to anything humans must take to prevent ticks. This is not a īmouse trialīto make sure it is safe for humans later.

The mice ARE what they want this strategy to work on.

Humans are not the main food source for ticks, in fact, we are not even a good food source for them. Their main targets are mice, deer and some other mammals. With deer being the most talked about, but mice being the most important. The bacteria that causes Lymeīs disease needs a lot of help to reproduce, it needs the tick, and it needs a mammal. Otherwise the bacteria does not spread. This approach is simply to use genetic engineering on the mice to make them immune to the bacteria, which means the bacteria cannot use that mouse to reproduce, thus ending itīs cycle of life.

If every tick feeds on a mouse that is genetically altered, then the bacteria will always be injected into the mouse, and just die. The scientists are just trying to put a roadblock in a part of the bacterias lifecycle.

pwarbi
06-16-2016, 02:07 AM
But surely in some way what the scientists are doing is going to benefit us humans in the long run, even if their findings and what they achieve doesn't impact on us directly?

Any research is a good thing in my opinion, and even if it doesn't lead to any help for us, with a bit of luck the least it will do is create more understanding and awareness of lumen disease and that only help everyone indirectly.

oportosanto
06-16-2016, 02:58 AM
Surely we will receive benefits from this, but it will take it's time.

Azrile
06-16-2016, 01:14 PM
But surely in some way what the scientists are doing is going to benefit us humans in the long run, even if their findings and what they achieve doesn't impact on us directly?

Any research is a good thing in my opinion, and even if it doesn't lead to any help for us, with a bit of luck the least it will do is create more understanding and awareness of lumen disease and that only help everyone indirectly.

We are not even close to the point where we could, as a society, use genetic engineering on human beings in this way. It isnīt science, it is ethics. For what they are doing, you would literally need to inject DNA into a fetus very early in a pregnancy.

So instead of doing it on humans, they are doing it on mice. The effects are the same.

Azrile
06-16-2016, 01:17 PM
Surely we will receive benefits from this, but it will take it's time.

If mice are made immune, and are the leading vector for the mammal part of the bacteria lifecycle, then yes, it could rapidly decrease the amount of infected ticks.

My question is just that we donīt know how big of a percentage the mice are compared to deer and other mammals. Is making the mice immune enough to significantly lower the amount of infected ticks? Or we have to genetically engineer the deer and other mammals too.

This isnīt a way to eliminate Lymes, it will just lower the amount of ticks infected.