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Interesting New Tick News


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Ten bucks for a 24 hour pass to some ScienceNow site? I don't think so. I vote ScienceLater. Please cut and paste the article details so we don't have to $join$ to make informed comments or jokes. Might help to move this along. Although, maybe not?


Is this about the tick's sex life or mine? :o I hate cold showers.


Alt to the sig line... Nothing pains some people more than having to PAY to think about *what is this about anyway?*.

NOT -Martin Luther King, Jr. :D

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Sorry, didn't realize that it was linked beyond the front door of my academic institution's access (it's an automatic gateway for me so I don't know what's free or pay on their site anymore). As for "some ScienceNow website"....this is the scientific journal, Science...which may not hold much weight to mere mortals, but to us scientists, to even get a news brief like this is gold....to get a whole research article into it is platinum.. :lol:


There are two super-big competitors for science journals (like the Time/Newsweek of news magazines)...Science and Nature.


Here's the article text (minus the cool pictures of magnified bloated ticks):


Sex Makes Ticks Hungry for Blood


An extra 15 kilograms during pregnancy may ruffle a woman's wardrobe, but it's nothing compared to the plight of a female tick. Before laying her eggs, she sucks enough blood to balloon up to 100 times her body weight. Now researchers have discovered what stokes the blood feast: a protein made by well-nourished male ticks and passed on during mating. The protein may harbor the biochemical secret to a vaccine to protect livestock from tick-borne illnesses.


After mating, the female African cattle tick feeds slowly on her host at first, expanding up to 10 times her starting weight in 4 to 7 days. Then she abruptly starts to feed faster. Again, her body weight multiplies by 10--this time in a mere 24 to 36 hours. Scientists knew that sex was critical to this rapid engorgement, but until now knew little about what triggered it.


Well, where else to look, but in the male gonads? These make proteins that can be transferred to the female along with sperm during mating. To determine if one of these proteins spurred the females' feasts, biologists Brian Weiss and Reuben Kaufman of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, injected extracts from male gonads into feeding virgin females. Gonad extract from males that had not fed off a host had no effect on the females. But the extract from recently fed males caused virgin females to engorge like a mated female.


Narrowing down the field, they engineered proteins from 28 genes activated in the male gonads by feeding. This isolated the one protein responsible for causing rapid engorgement, which they dubbed "voraxin," from the Latin word for gluttonous. They report their findings online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers also report that they are in the early stages of developing an antibody to voraxin that can be injected to host as a vaccine. In preliminary tests with immunized rabbits, they found that the antibody prevented 74% of mated female ticks from engorging.


Such a vaccine would not only reduce the ticks' effects on livestock, but it would also greatly reduce the females' egg-laying capacity, and thus the overall tick populations and risks of tick-borne diseases, says Anthony Kiszewski, an instructor in the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "The discovery is certainly novel, with potential practical applications in agriculture," he says.


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