Cornell University iGEM
Caused by an immune response to bacterial infection of the teat canal in the udder of a cow, mastitis can cause permanent damage to the milk-secreting ducts and tissues of a cow and contaminates the milk that is subsequently released after infection. The contamination of milk as well as the painful and sometimes fatal consequences to the cow can be a huge economic loss to dairy farmers. If contamination is found, the milk must be thrown away and the cow cannot be milked for a certain period of time while it is being treated with antibiotics. Treatment and control of mastitis is one of the biggest costs to the dairy industry; while there is a Mastitis Control Plan that has been released by the AHDB(Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board), this method has only seen a 36% reduction in mastitis. The major pathogens that can cause mastitis can be transferred to the inside of the udder during the milking process and thus, disinfection of the milking machine is an important but not completely sure way of preventing the spread of mastitis.
Similar to our project from last year, Cornell iGEM aims to genetically engineer E. coli to create a protein to help fight against the bacterial infection in the infected cow’s udder to prevent further spread of the disease. We hope to find a more natural way than using antibiotics to fight this disease to make it easier on dairy farmers who have to constantly worry about a mastitis outbreak. Additionally, we are designing improvements to current milking machines used in industry to prevent mastitis. We are also aiming to help farmers by creating a mobile app to manage disease outbreaks.