Nautilus

If You Can’t Beat Diseases, Domesticate Them

A tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) sucking blood from human skinMarco Uliana via Shutterstock

For most of our history, wolves have been a menace to humanity. Sharp teeth, raw speed, and pack coordination put us at serious risk. Their howls still send chills down our spines for good reason. But some thousands of years ago, some wolves gradually became used to, and even fond of, humans. Canis lupus became Canis familiaris. Eventually, humans took more active control of the evolutionary trajectory of the wolf, molding its descendants into dachshunds and golden retrievers and great Danes. The offspring of an animal that ate our ancestors now protect us from intruders, return our Frisbees, and dutifully allow our children to ride them like horses. 

Some researchers have begun to believe that we can use a similar approach to decrease the risk of infectious disease. After getting a better handle

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