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9-Misc: GE herpes 'could control' mice plagues in Australia



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TITLE:  Herpes 'could control' mice plagues
SOURCE: Australian Associated Press
        http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,16736614-1702,00.html?from=rss
DATE:   27 Sep 2005

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Herpes 'could control' mice plagues

A GENETICALLY engineered herpes virus could help control plagues of wild
mice, researchers said today.

Preliminary research into the mouse cytomegalovirus has showed it
rendered mice infertile for up to 250 days - equivalent to the breeding
season in the wild.

Lyn Hinds, a research scientist and invasive animal team leader with
CSIRO, said current control measures for mice included poisoning with
zinc phosphide.

"The problem with poisoning is that it is costly, it is not species
specific and there are cases where animals have become bait shy," Dr
Hinds told the ComBio 2005 conference in Adelaide.

"The new concept is to develop technologies, which may include
genetically modified organisms, to control fertility in wild mice populations.

"In effect, our research is about developing a biotech mousetrap that can
prevent reproduction in mice and reduce enormous stress and financial
losses in rural communities."

Dr Hinds said various strains of mouse cytomegalovirus already existed in
the wild.

"Our studies suggest the virus is species specific in that it will not
affect other native or introduced species of mammals," she said.

"While the research to date is promising, there are still a number of
challenges in terms of bio-safety and animal welfare.

"For example, we have to be able to ensure sufficient transmission and
induction of infertility among mice populations.

"Secondly, we need to be certain that the virus is species specific.

"Importantly, we have to be sure it is a publicly acceptable pest control
measure."

The research is an Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre project
involving scientists at the CSIRO and the University of Western Australia
and is funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Dr Hinds said that depending on the outcome of current research, it was
hoped that field trials of the virus would be staged in Queensland within
12 months.


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