Shrew population densities on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard have not been reported, so their relative importance in the Lyme disease cycle is not known. Levi T, Keesing F, Holt RD, Barfield M, Ostfeld RS. For those who are not familiar with this disease and are lucky enough not to be affected, they may be interested in reading an earlier article on this subject “Lyme disease explored with Les Roberts.” Les Roberts, who suffers from Lyme Disease, described it as “an all encompassing nightmare straight from the very pits of hell.” His experience with this disease encouraged him to write a book called “The Poison Plum” to help others better understand the dangers of Lyme Disease. For example, if ticks are not able to feed on GE white-footed mice, information about whether this could lead to greater use of alternate hosts, including humans, or reductions in tick populations over time will be useful for evaluating possible benefits and risks. 2010). Genetically engineered mice could fight Lyme Disease. Under this scenario, which merits further investigation, smaller numbers of juvenile ticks would become infected with the spirochete over time, potentially crossing a threshold level that leads to lower infection frequencies in nonmouse reservoir species. ... doctors report that as many as 40 percent of all households have been impacted by Lyme disease. So, is the increase in Lyme Disease just a coincidence, or is it connected in some way to the research on Plum Island? As was noted by Hayes and colleagues (2014), this very challenging task is initiated by asking many hypothetical what-if questions. 1987, Lane et al. Since I became involved in this subject, I have received many letters from others who suffer from Lyme Disease, and I am extremely grateful for their help in providing information for my articles. Genetic engineering of wild populations has been proposed for reducing human diseases by altering pathogens’ hosts. 2008). Spielman A, Etkind P, Piesman J, Ruebush TKII, Juranek DD, Jacobs MS. Tsao JI, Wootton JT, Bunikis J, Luna MG, Fish D, Barbour AG. The Environmental Protection Agency also could become involved if the GE white-footed mice are endowed with an antitick cassette and if this is viewed as a type of “pesticide” (NASEM 2017). ” and learn how impact inventing might help … There is one of only two possible realities that could have unfolded in regards to Lyme disease "originating" on Plum Island, New York. King looks at the ethics, and possible effects, of this prospect. Going forward, interdisciplinary cooperation and proactive risk assessment research will be needed to identify appropriate uses of genome editing in wild vertebrates and to avoid unwanted outcomes. 2006, Levi et al. Older studies in the scientific literature suggest that one or possibly two endemic subspecies of white-footed mouse may be present on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard (Waters 1969, Argyros 2004). 2015), in which case GE mice without spirochetes may not exhibit enhanced fitness compared to infected, non-GE mice. Kyrou K, Hammond AM, Galizi R, Kranjc N, Burt A, Beaghton AK, Nolan T, Crisanti A. Levi T, Kilpatrick AM, Mangel M, Wilmers CC. Photograph: Michael Richardson. What is the ecological role of white-footed mice as predators, competitors, and prey? 1991, LoGiudice et al. With this information, possible risks can be weighed against possible benefits to society—that is, greatly decreasing Lyme disease exposure on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The environmental benefits of releasing GE vertebrates (e.g., efforts to preserve endangered species) are not considered in the present article, nor are cases that involve gene drive systems. Although human studies on the health effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO), also referred to as GM foods, are lacking at present, the LIA believes they should be avoided until proven safe, especially the most vulnerable such as those suffering autism, Lyme disease, and other chronic illnesses. Sources for mammal occurrences on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are listed in supplemental table 1. Fikrig E, Telford SRIII, Barthold SW, Kantor FS, Spielman A, Flavell RA. The white footed mouse is another common tick target. 2017). Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by the Borrelia bacterium which is spread by ticks. “Lyme disease is our natural disaster.” More than 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with it each year. Is it some attempt to reduce the population, an experiment, or simply a new tactic for drug companies to introduce some expensive cure at a later date? 2) Many Lyme and Gulf War Illness patients are infected with the same genetically engineered organism (mycoplasma fermentens) created and patented by the US Government. In addition, APHIS participates in programs that use biotechnology to identify and control plant and animal pests.”. Little interplot movement would be expected because white-footed mice have a relatively small home range (Wolff 1985, Tsao et al. Meanwhile, gene drive research to eradicate mosquito populations that carry malaria is already well underway (Kyrou et al. See the text for details and supplemental table 1 for the species found on the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard versus the mainland. Other unwanted disruption of biotic communities, including disruption of ecosystem services. Does the introduction of GE white-footed mice alter the transmission dynamics of other tick-borne pathogens? [NASEM] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. All News. Could any rare species be affected adversely if GE interventions dramatically alter natural population dynamics of white-footed mice? 2019). These possibilities have prompted molecular biologists to extend the scope of their research to include wildlife management, epidemiology, and biological conservation (Piaggio et al. 2017). Are local populations of white-footed mice distinct subspecies compared to populations on other islands and the mainland? Relationship between numbers of the endangered American burying beetle, Chain reactions linking acorns to gypsy moth outbreaks and Lyme disease risk, Editing nature: Local roots of global governance. Here, I examine a case study involving the white-footed mouse (Figure 1) in the context of broader questions regarding risk assessment for free-living GE vertebrates. Although Lyme Disease can (and does) exist worldwide, it was "discovered" in 1975 near Lyme, Connecticut, hence the name. One risk assessment concern that is relatively straightforward to address empirically pertains to population-genetic effects of releasing massive numbers of GE white-footed mice that have been reared in controlled, laboratory environments. But sadly this seems an exception to the rule. Picture many thousands of mice let loose on a Massachusetts island in an effort to fight Lyme disease. Given the importance of wildlife and natural areas to many of the islands’ residents and visitors, as well as the compelling need to reduce Lyme disease, this proposal to introduce GE Lyme-resistant white-footed mice will be of great interest to local residents and organizations such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative, and, on Martha's Vineyard, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and BiodiversityWorks (https://biodiversityworksmv.org). In Ohio woodlands, Harder and colleagues (2014) found that shrews were as common as white-footed mice on the basis of data from pitfall traps in addition to live trapping. Approximately 70–80% of infected people develop a rash. The book includes interviews with Willy Burgdorfer, who is credited with discovering the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Allison A Snow, Genetically Engineering Wild Mice to Combat Lyme Disease: An Ecological Perspective, BioScience, Volume 69, Issue 9, September 2019, Pages 746–756, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz080. Experimenting with genetically modified rodents. Within-population data could then be used to compare genetic profiles of current populations with subsequent populations after massive introductions of GE white-footed mice on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. APHIS regulates certain GE organisms that may pose a risk to plant or animal health. Although human studies on the health effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO), also referred to as GM foods, are lacking at present, … White-footed mice typically survive for less than 1 year; females have about two litters per year, with three or four pups per litter (Spielman et al. It can cause nerve damage, pain, numbness and paralysis. Thus, the name of the disease emerged. In sexually reproducing species with short generation times, gene drives can theoretically be used to push selectively beneficial, neutral, or even deleterious traits to fixation, including sterility genes for eradicating unwanted populations (Harvey-Samuel et al. The months of June and July attract the highest number of reported cases. 2019). Pages 18–47 in EDITORS, eds. One lady, who I shall refer to as “EH,” wrote to me and said “19 of my immediate and extended family members have battled or are battling Lyme disease and coinfections”. Request PDF | On Dec 2, 2019, Pedro Ducos and others published Graphene transistor arrays functionalized with genetically engineered antibody fragments for Lyme disease diagnosis | … Plum Island comes under the control of DHS: “On November 21, 2002, President Bush signed legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to unify Federal forces and protect our Nation from a new host of terrorist threats. For example, using older techniques, the once-common American chestnut (Castanea americana) has been genetically engineered to resist the chestnut blight fungus that nearly drove this species to extinction (Popkin 2018). First, the research team will vaccinate lab-reared white-footed mice from a Martha's Vineyard population to identify naturally occurring antibodies that bind to OspA or subolesin. Bensaci M, Bhattacharya D, Clark R, Hu LT. Brossard D, Belluck P, Gould F, Wirz CD. The white-footed mouse is often considered to be one of the most effective and abundant reservoir species for Lyme spirochetes in the northeastern United States (Piesman and Spielman 1979, Donahue et al. These infections cause immense human suffering; about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in the United States each year according to the CDC. One possibility is to use replicated experimental plots (approximately 0.4 hectares) that are more than 500 meters (m) away from each other on same island, with two types of introductions, GE versus non-GE white-footed mice. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, almost 9,000 cases of Lyme disease have been reported across the state between 2015 and 2016. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for both diseases. Similar criteria can be applied to possible risks of releasing GE white-footed mice on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard (table 1). and other nut-producing trees that sustain rodents and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), effects of predators such as red fox (Vulpes vulpes), coyote (Canus latrans), and bobcat (Lynx rufus) on small mammal populations, and local densities of deer, which are a major host for adult ticks but do not function as reservoir species (e.g., Ostfeld et al. Early diagnosis of Lyme disease could prevent patients from developing serious side effects such as chronic arthritis and permanent neurological disorders. 3) Lyme Disease and Gulf War Illness share almost identical symptoms. Novel public health strategies require community … As with most diseases, if you catch it in the early stages, there is a greater chance of a cure. Deer and mice are some of the most common targets, but people are also unsuspecting victims. Indeed, the ability of introduced genes to spread throughout surrounding populations will be essential for achieving intended outcomes. An examination of museum specimens ofIxodes ticks showed that the presence of Lyme disease spirochetes in suitable arthropod vectors preceded — by at least a generation — the year (1982) when Lyme disease was first recognized as a distinct clinical entity in the U.S. (1, 2). After testing the efficacy of the most promising antibodies and various types of promoters to enhance gene expression, the team plans to design a resistance cassette, with multiple antibody-encoding genes. As with any ambitious, long-term research project, the research plan is likely to be modified as the work progresses, pending initial outcomes and benchmarks. LoGiudice K, Ostfeld RS, Schmidt KA, Keesing F. Markowski D, Ginsberg HS, Hyland KE, Hu R. Mckenna-Foster A, Perrotti L, Blyth J, LoPresti E, Kennedy RS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of cases at about 300,000 per year.1 Lyme disease, which causes fever, fatigue and headaches, can usually be successfully treated with … The proposal comes as Island biologists and health experts are pressing for expanded deer hunts as a way to interrupt the life cycle of ticks, which carry a number of diseases and … This project is one of many that aim to use genetic editing tools to modify animals’ DNA to stop diseases like Lyme, malaria and schistosomiasis. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for both diseases. The project would still be years down the road. 2019). Note: Reservoir competence is the relative frequency of Lyme transmission from an infected host to uninfected ticks. If the native mouse lines used for rearing the GE lineages already include high levels of genetic diversity, severe bottlenecks and genetic drift can be minimized, depending on methods used for creating and maintaining these lineages. 2018a). 3) Lyme Disease … ... Once the genetically engineered … For the purpose of this review, I assume that it is possible to use genome editing to engineer white-footed mice with resistance to the Lyme spirochete. Dead white-footed mice also provide carrion for scavengers, including several species of burying beetle (Nicrophorus spp., McKenna-Foster et al. ... the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Since top-quality animal research requires that, at some point, a possible new vaccine or treatment be tested on the potential recipient species, housing those animals on the island, miles across the water from any commercial livestock operation, ensures that we won’t accidentally endanger the nation’s livestock population.”. To promote rapid fixation within populations, the new gene can be inserted along with a gene drive system that causes biased inheritance of genetic elements and thereby ensures very high rates of transmission of the inserted gene to subsequent generations (Esvelt et al. This delay makes it challenging for researchers, NGOs, and others to know what kinds of specific baseline data should be obtained to address regulatory requirements for field trials and larger-scale releases of GE vertebrates. ''I don't mind being the Lyme vaccine poster child.'' Tick-borne disease has been rising over the past few decades and mice are seen as the main reservoir for the bacteria that cause Lyme and other diseases. From what she knows about the project, Brooks thinks using the genetically engineered mice is the best solution to reduce Lyme disease on the island, although she does have some questions. And Dr. Tim Lepore, a surgeon at a Nantucket hospital who has been seeing patients with Lyme since the ’80s, estimates that many more are infected than the … Ticks require a single blood meal during each stage of their 2-year life cycle, as larvae, nymphs, and adults (females only); larvae and nymphs feed primarily on small mammals, whereas female adults feed primarily on deer (Figure 2; e.g., Anderson 1988, but see Huang et al. The five main GM foods are soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. According to reported cases of Lyme Disease (1992-2004), those most affected were boys aged between 5 and 9. Once bred in very large numbers, the GE mice could be introduced either swiftly or gradually over several years. Giardina AR, Schmidt KA, Schauber ME, Ostfeld RS. I was shocked to read this statistic in The New York Times 2019). 2014, Esvelt and Gemmell 2017, Nobel et al. Alternatively, the research team may attempt to inundate an entire small island with GE mice, possibly in tandem with studies at an unaltered control island with no intervention and a non-GE control island with lab-reared white-footed mice that lack the GE cassette. 2016). The first is that Lyme disease originated on Plum Island, and by "originated" we could only mean "a genetically modified single celled organism" and not born or created. 1) Lyme disease is endemic to all land areas surrounding Plum Island. Although a form of Lyme Disease has apparently existed for some time, many feel that the current version has undergone “changes.” In other words: genetic engineering. 2019). As scientists battle bitter backlash over a plan to release genetically modified, Zika-killing mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, just 1,700 miles north a similar plan has caused much less of a fuss. After a dengue outbreak in Key West, Florida, during 2009–2010, authorities, considered conducting the first US release of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes genetically modified to prevent reproduction. The white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus. At the federal level, many possible uses of CRISPR-based genome editing are not subject to clear or consistent regulatory oversight (Kuzma 2016, NASEM 2017, Brossard et al. One possible solution was to reduce their numbers, but that was unpopular with residents, Lepore said. If the community were to support releasing the genetically-engineered mice into the wild, it would theoretically break the transmission cycle of the disease further down the food chain from the deer. 2017). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Phylogeography and systematics of insular white-footed mice (, PhD Dissertation, Northeastern University, Conspicuous impacts of inconspicuous hosts on the Lyme disease epidemic, Promise and perils of gene drives: Navigating the communication of complex, post-normal science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mice Against Ticks: An experimental community-guided effort to prevent tick-borne disease by altering the shared environment, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Territorial behavior and populations of some small mammals in southern Michigan. Some believe that the spread of this terrible disease was either as a … Characteristics of GE white-footed mice compared to local populations. 2014). Not With This Track Record, Women Suffering from Irregular Menopausal Cycles May Die Earlier, Laundry Expert Reveals How To Keep Children’s Uniforms Covid-free, Streamline Verify Sponsors Largest COVID-19 Plasma Drive, Early Detection And Treatment Vital to Beating COVID-19, Trump Crushes Drug Prices By 30% To 70% For Americans, COVID-19 No Vaccine Needed, There Is Already A Cure, Covid-19 Fraud on the Rise in the US: MEDICAL Impact, Preventive Wellness Consultants LLC and Arrayit Corporation Facing Possible Fraud Charges. Residents said they’d ideally want the white-footed mice to be resistant to both Lyme disease and ticks. Like the American Academy of Environmental Medicine earlier this year, the LIA Foundation says there is more than enough evidence of harm in GM animal feeding studies for them to "urge doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets" and for "individuals, especially those with autism, Lyme disease, and associated conditions, to avoid" GM foods. 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