When researchers consider disease model options, cows generally remain in the pasture. But a bovine tuberculosis epidemic in the United Kingdom has made the grazers invaluable, not only for studying ways to stymie Mycobacterium bovis, the bovine version of the tubercle bacilli that causes disease, but the human version, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well. At the Fourth World Congress on Tuberculosis, held recently in Washington, DC, tuberculosis (TB) investigator Glyn Hewinson, Department of Bacterial Diseases, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, UK, expounded on the virtues, and liabilities, of using Bossy the cow as a human TB model. Cow pluses: They exhibit a humanlike pathology and immunological response; researchers have a large array of bovine immunological reagents available; calves are immunocompetent early on; vaccines can be tested in the natural host species; and the United Kingdom's TB epidemic has made clinical material plentiful. Cow minuses: They are relatively expensive to study; few...
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