To Milk A Tick  Full Article Here as well as podcast.  Approx. 18 Min.


To Milk A Tick

Ticks are masters of breaking down the defenses of their host organism to get a blood meal. They use anesthetics to numb the skin, anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing, and keep the host’s immune system from recognizing them as invaders and kicking them out. And the key to understanding this is in the tick’s saliva. Biochemist and microbiologist Seemay Chou discusses how she milks the saliva from ticks to study what compounds play key parts in these chemical tricks. She also talks about how ticks are able to control the microbes in their saliva.

SciFri took a visit of Chou’s tick lab at UCSF. See photos of the team’s work below…. (See full article & podcast in link above)


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“But I am a biologist, so that’s where I started working on ticks and mosquitoes—how to produce a lot of them. Drop them out of airplanes. Everything was very hush-hush, very secret. I’m still leery talking about it, because I think they might put me in jail because I’m delivering secrets. [Laughs.] It was a crazy time.

How do you do a defensive application of ticks and mosquitoes?

We would run all kinds of distribution tests on where these things go when you release them and what were the factors that would cause the migration. Can we drop them out of airplanes and how do we get the bugs to the enemy? That was the thing we did…”