BSA Distinguished Lecture

"Preventing tick-borne disease by heritably immunizing populations of white-footed mice"

Presented by Professor Kevin Esvelt, MIT

Thursday, June 8, 2017, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Because most ticks are infected with the pathogens causing Lyme and other diseases when they bite a white-footed mouse, immunizing the local mouse population could prevent most cases of human illness. Guided by the communities of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, our laboratory is working on a project to heritably immunize populations of white-footed mice. The goal is to immunize mice against both Lyme disease and tick saliva, identify the mouse antibody genes that confer protection, and encode them into the mouse genome so that they will be inherited by future generations. Releasing large numbers of these engineered but "100% mouse" animals on a small uninhabited island would test their ability to reduce the infected tick population and provide an opportunity to spot any unexpected ecological side-effects. An independent assessment and positive report to the island communities would lead to a vote on whether to introduce mice on the islands. If successful, the preventative effects might be extended to larger islands and the mainland using our new "daisy drive" technology to spread the protective antibodies through local mouse populations.

Hosted by: Peter Wanderer

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