What is an organism, often an insect or rodent, that carries disease or plasmids, viruses, or bacteria used to transport genes into a host cell called?

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    I think you’re combining two different ideas here.  Organisms that carry infectious diseases and spread them from host to host are called vectors.  Ticks, for example, are vectors for Lyme Disease.  The way these animals take the disease from one animal and transmit it to another is similar to the way that viruses are used by molecular biologists to take genetic information from one source and transmit it to another cell.  Such viruses are also called vectors.

    Viruses are naturally designed to insert their genetic information into host cells so that the cells will produce more viruses.   Now scientists have figured out that they can replace the virus’s harmful genese with beneficial genes, and then use the viruses to transmit these genes into a cell.  The hope is that by using these vector viruses, we will be able to solve genetic disorders, such as diabetes.

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