Mice Against Ticks - Preventing tick-borne disease by permanently immunizing mice

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne infection in North America. People are infected when bitten by ticks; ticks are typically infected when they bite white-footed mice, the primary "reservoir" of the disease. We are exploring the possibility of permanently immunizing mouse populations to block transmission by making and releasing mice that produce protective mouse antibodies from birth and pass immunity on to their pups. The project has been guided by representatives in offshore island communities from inception. Communities will choose which type of antibodies, pick uninhabited islands to serve as field trial sites, select independent monitors, and ultimately decide whether to volunteer their own islands for the next stage. If successful, prevention could be expanded to the mainland using local or global gene drive systems. Whether or not communities decide to proceed, we hope the process will become a model for responsive science worldwide.


Heidi Goethert