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MIT Plan To Tackle Lyme Disease Would Release Thousands Of Genetically Modified Mice On Nantucket

NANTUCKET (CBS) -- MIT researchers are unveiling their plan to tackle the growing threat of Lyme disease, and it involves releasing thousands of genetically modified mice on Nantucket.

The Boston Globe reports that scientists this month explained to island residents their proposal to release potentially hundreds of thousands of mice that have been engineered to be resistant to the bacteria that causes Lyme.

They say that if Lyme were less prevalent among mice, then fewer ticks that bite the rodents would contract the disease. As a result, there would be fewer cases of Lyme disease in humans bitten by ticks.

A 2019 report found that Nantucket "has a much higher burden of Lyme disease when compared to the rest of the state," with Lyme accounting for 71% of all infectious disease on the island.

"With so many people suffering from Lyme every single day, which is an awful disease, we need a solution urgently," MIT Media Lab's Mice Against Ticks project research director Joanna Buchthal told the newspaper. "This offers a real, if revolutionary, way to tackle the problem."

The innovative proposal would need extensive scrutiny from regulators before it can be put into place, according to The Globe.



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