These little devils will cause you no end of grief. From the constant buzzing to ruining a barbecue. But, wait there’s more. They can carry around this little parasite that causes a disease you might have heard of – malaria.
Obviously, this is major killer in many areas of the world. In order to combat the disease, Drs. Charles Long and Mark Westhusin at Texas A&M University (whoop!) have created a genetically engineered goat, named Goat 21, that produces a malaria vaccine in her milk.
There isn’t currently an effective malarial vaccine, but it’s a very active area of research. We’re all familiar with vaccination – “introducing” your body to a disease before you’re infected to allow it to prepare to fight should the need ever arise.
The idea here is that this goat produces a protein in her milk that is normally made by the malaria bug. Then, when someone drinks this milk, their body recognizes the foreign agent and attacks it. They are exposed just as if they had been given a shot, and their body is then prepped to fight against future exposure to the actual parasite. It would be simple to distribute these goats worldwide for villagers around the globe to drink the milk and inoculate themselves.
Now, this is quite a ways off. The team is waiting on Goat 21 to give birth to see if her offspring produce the vaccine in their milk as well. Then, clinical trials are necessary to see how effective this vaccine actually is, just as with any other drug trying to go widespread. Now, I may be biased, but I still think this is some pretty cool research, and I certainly hope it pans out.
Thanks & Gig ‘Em.
I found this work reported by Shane McAuliffe at KBTX. You can visit here to check out their news report.