Can mice thwart Lyme?

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Updated July 6

White-footed mice may someday stop being the Vineyard’s primary vector for Lyme disease and instead become the agents of its downfall. That’s what MIT scientist Kevin Esvelt hopes, anyway. Esvelt aims to permanently inoculate white-footed mice against Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium behind Lyme, through a genetic engineering project called “Mice Against Ticks.” As part of the evening lecture series run by the Vineyard Haven Public Library, Esvelt will provide an overview of “Mice Against Ticks” at the Katharine Cornell Theater on Thursday, July 12, at 7 pm, and then take part in a panel discussion. Joining Esvelt on the panel will be bioethicists Sheila Jasanoff and Carolyn Neuhaus, medical researcher Dr. Duane Wesemann, and tick researcher Sam Telford. New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter will lead the panel in discussion about “community-guided science and the ethical implications of altering our shared environment to reduce tick-borne disease,” according to Betty Burton, coordinator of the Adult Lecture Series at the library. Local science fiction novelist John Sundman will give opening remarks. Finally, audience members can participate in Lyme prevention trivia and win permethrin-treated prizes.

At the recent CRISPRcon 2018 in Boston, a crew from www.CRISPRInsider.com interviewed MVRHS biology teacher Carrie Fyler about the Mice Against Ticks programs. Fyler’s students at MVRHS created a tick lab at the school.

Updated to add a link to the video. -Ed.