Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Manipulating Nature: Scientists Query Wildlife Birth-control Method

Date:
February 12, 2007
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Australian scientists are raising concerns over the unpredictable nature of a contraceptive vaccine that aims to control populations of wild animals, such as rabbits and foxes. Writing in the latest issue of the journal, Reproduction, UNSW genetics expert Professor Des Cooper warns that the immuno-contraception method is not fully effective and is manipulating natural reproduction in ways that can't be predicted or controlled.

Professor Cooper also raises concerns that individuals that survive the vaccine may be more likely to carry infectious diseases with the potential to affect other animals.

Related Articles


An immuno-contraceptive vaccine causes an animal's immune system to produce antibodies that act against some essential event or structure in the reproductive process. The antibodies can act against sperm, eggs or reproductive hormones, which prevent either fertilization or the production of sperm and ova.

Proponents of the technique, which was first tested nearly 20 years ago, regard it as more humane than the conventional methods of controlling wildlife populations, such as shooting, trapping, poisoning or viral diseases. It has drawn support from some politicians and animal-welfare agencies.

An expert in mammal reproduction, Professor Cooper, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, questions immuno-contraception on three grounds.

"Firstly, immuno-contraceptives are ineffective against substantial minorities of animals, probably for genetic reasons," Professor Cooper says. "If so, the genes responsible for this lack of response will be passed on to offspring. Within a few generations most of the population will be unresponsive to the immunocontraceptive, so its effectiveness as a form of birth control is likely to be short-lived."

Professor Cooper's research reveals that than in 27 out of 32 immunocontraceptive control trials around the world, 10 per cent of animals remained fertile because they were unresponsive to self-antigens.

His second concern is that the technique is effectively a form of genetic engineering: "Immunocontraception alters the gene pool of the targeted species because those animals who are unresponsive are genetically unusual individuals," he says.

"The job of the immunological system is to combat disease-causing organisms. But there is a danger that the selected minority might be more susceptible to diseases, or that they would be better at carrying disease-causing agents which could affect other animals with which they come in contact.

"Unless we are certain about these effects, altering the genetic capacity of a wild population to mount immune responses should not be permitted.

"The third concern is that animals are suffering side-effects from multiple injections and adjuvant substances (catalysts that modify the action of other agents) designed to boost the effectiveness of immuno-contraceptives.

"The most commonly used adjuvant, Freund's adjuvant, also induces a range of undesirable side-effects and its use is being challenged on animal-welfare grounds."

About immuno-contraception

Several immunocontraceptive vaccines are under development, including vaccines against brain reproductive hormones such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH); pituitary hormones such as luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH); vaccines against steroid reproductive hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone; and vaccines against the sperm and the egg, which in turn prevent fertilization.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Manipulating Nature: Scientists Query Wildlife Birth-control Method." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070211200625.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2007, February 12). Manipulating Nature: Scientists Query Wildlife Birth-control Method. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070211200625.htm
University of New South Wales. "Manipulating Nature: Scientists Query Wildlife Birth-control Method." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070211200625.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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