Purdue University advancing tick research to protect human health


[SOUND] So ticks are spread around the
world, they distributed around the world. And they transmit a wide
array of parasites and pathogens, bacteria, viruses, protozoa. And they transmit those when
they’re blood feeding and they can transmit them to humans or
to animals. And we’re now learning has a, potentially, very important role in the immune
responses or allergic reactions. [MUSIC]>>I was at work and I fainted, and
my coworkers called the ambulance. And they came and the EMTs got there. My blood pressure and
my blood sugar was very low. So we started pushing the fluids, and
electrolytes, and that sort of thing. And I kept having these fainting spells. [MUSIC] And then they, said, well,
in April, I found a tick on me. I live in Southern Indiana,
I play golf, I mow my own yard. I weed eat,
I find ticks on me all the time. [MUSIC] And then on Monday,
I got a phone call from Dr. Martin’s office,
that the first of the tests had come back. And it was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
and it was positive and I started crying. And I said, am I gonna die? And no, no, no, it’s treatable, and you’re
already on the medicine to treat it with. So we’re starting to get some answers,
this is a good thing. She called me the next day, Dr. Martin did, and said I need you to come
in, we need to talk about some things. So we went in, and the Lyme’s disease
had come back and it was a low positive. And I said, okay so I’ve got two tick
diseases, how many more are there? And so, we did a total of eight and
I said, could I have more? And she said,
you could have all eight of them. And then my test came back,
and she called and she said,
you have a disease called Alpha-gal. And what on earth is that? And she said, it’s a tick disease,
it’s not really well known. That when the tick bites you,
it makes you allergic to mammal meat and mammal products. It’s leveled off now and
since I know what I can consume, I’m not fainting anymore,
I’m not feeling weird anymore. Eating out and
buying products is very difficult now. And being in Indiana, I mean,
when you think about agricultural studies. And top brains of the world,
you think of Purdue University. So I contacted my local
Purdue Extension agent and said, I’ve got this going on,
who at Purdue should I contact? [MUSIC]>>And so we know that ticks can
introduce bacteria and parasites. But what we’re also understanding now,
is that they can introduce other factors. What we don’t know,
is really how tick’s do this. And we don’t know what the interplay is,
between the infectious agents and the other factors that they introduce and how that then affects
the human immune response. But we know that we need to be
working at that intersection, in order to better advance the science. And find new strategies for
controlling infectious diseases and immunological responses. So very recently, there has been
a significant accomplishment or achievement in the field of tick research. And that is the sequencing
of the first tick genome. And the recently,
the National Institutes of Health, funded a project to sequence a symbol and
analyze a genome of a tick. And the tick that I chose to
focus on was Ixodes scapularis, this is the Lyme disease tick. That’s a very important vector of,
at least, four diseases that we now
of in the United States. It was a ten year project, involving hundreds of scientists
from all around the world. And it took a lot of funding, and
a lot of effort to bring the project. To get the project off the ground and
also to bring the project to completion. It was an effort led by Purdue and involved large groups of
scientists around the world. And we found roughly 20,000 genes. So now, we have the blueprint,
I guess, you could say, for working out or
deciphering how a tick works. So understanding all of the proteins that
it makes and analyzing it’s genetic code. To understand exactly how a tick functions
and to better understand its biology. It gives us the tools to better
understand how ticks acquire and transmit so many different pathogens. And the second thing that
the Genome Project does, is gives us a whole list of genes. And many of those genes
are actually unique to the tick. And so, we can look at ways that we
could design highly specific strategies. Targeted designer strategies if you like, to very specifically control ticks and
nothing else. And we feel that, the Genome Project
is a significant advance for the field. Because it gives scientists
around the world, a very large number of genetic,
genomic, molecular resources. That we can all analyze and integrate so that we can help move faster from
a basic understanding of ticks. To translating that into products for
diagnosis and control of disease. [MUSIC]