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Hijacking Mice to Fight Lyme

The research takes aim at white-footed mice, which spread Lyme disease.
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wikicommons / http://bit.ly/2x5pogV
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The research takes aim at white-footed mice, which spread Lyme disease.

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are among the nation’s most sought-after summer destinations. They’re also hotspots for Lyme disease. And now, they’re ground zero for a test case in the debate over genetically modified organisms.

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have proposed to genetically modify mice to make them resistant to Lyme disease and then release those mice on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to see if they can break the cycle of transmission.

Kevin Esvelt leads the Mice Against Ticks project. Jeantine Lunshof is the bioethicist for the project. They have been visiting the islands to answer questions and update residents on their progress, including at an event hosted by the Vineyard Haven Public Library. They stopped by to bring us up to date.