Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biotech Approach To Feral Cat Problem Devised

Date:
February 24, 1998
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
A student in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has used a summer fellowship grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (Morristown, NJ) to develop a genetically engineered bacterium to serve as an oral contraceptive that may one day help solve a major animal overpopulation problem.

BLACKSBURG, VA, February 18, 1998--A student in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has used a summer fellowship grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (Morristown, NJ) to develop a genetically engineered bacterium to serve as an oral contraceptive that may one day help solve a major animal overpopulation problem.

Experts estimate that anywhere from 30- to 60-million stray cats roam the United States, according to second-year student Michelle Meister-Weisbarth. These feral cats are wreaking havoc on the nation's songbird population and raising public health concerns as they spread infectious diseases and alter delicate ecological balances.

Controlling the birth rates of feral cats has proven a vexing task, since conventional spay and neuter techniques require surgery in a controlled environment. Animal control experts also note that eliminating or removing the feral cats does not work well since others seem to migrate into the recently vacated niches.

Working with faculty mentor Dr. Stephen Boyle in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID), Weisbarth conducted research which suggests the viability of a provocative new immuno-contraceptive approach for controlling reproduction in these feral cats.

The method involves the use of genetic engineering technology to modify a strain of the bacterium, Salmonella, which could then be delivered to feral cats in the wild via a vaccine-laden bait. Work in other laboratories around the world has demonstrated the viability of using genetically altered strains of Salmonella as vehicles for delivering vaccines, including oral contraceptives, explains Boyle, a molecular biologist at the CMMID.

Here's how the process works: Scientists used genetic engineering techniques to remove specific genes on the Salmonella genome making it unable to cause disease. Then, Meister-Weisbarth introduced a gene encoding a protein derived from the zona pellucida (ZP) surrounding the vertebrate egg into the Salmonella. The bacterial vaccine is capable of inducing the production of antibodies which recognize the ZP and block the ability of a sperm to fertilize the egg.

While many people recognize Salmonella as a bacterium which causes disease in people and animals, Boyle says, the attenuated strain cannot cause disease. The Salmonella bacterium is especially useful as a vehicle for delivering an immuno-contraceptive agent since once ingested, it survives in the stomach and crosses the intestinal tract to cells in the immune system, according to Boyle. Once in the cells of the immune system, the Salmonella are killed and the ZP antigen is released and stimulates production of antibodies against ZP. Because these antibodies bind to the ZP surrounding the egg, they inhibit the binding of sperm and thus block fertilization.

Scientists have looked at various techniques for delivering oral rabies vaccines to wild animals in the form of bait which Boyle and Meister-Weisbarth believe could easily be modified to deliver the genetically engineered Salmonella as an oral immuno-contraceptive vaccine.

With the preliminary work accomplished, Meister-Weisbarth and Boyle are seeking funding which will finance the next phase of the work: testing the attenuated Salmonella based oral contraceptive in laboratory animals.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine program is designed to promote veterinary research into advancing the humane treatment of animals as well as support nontraditional scholarship, including human-animal relationships, veterinary ethics, international issues, and conservation biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Biotech Approach To Feral Cat Problem Devised." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980224074624.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (1998, February 24). Biotech Approach To Feral Cat Problem Devised. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980224074624.htm
Virginia Tech. "Biotech Approach To Feral Cat Problem Devised." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980224074624.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins