PLEASE HELP US RAISE £20,000 FOR NEW RESEARCH EQUIPMENT
We are appealing to you for a donation towards a specialist piece of equipment, called a QIAcube, to help our Canine Genetics Team extract DNA for its many research projects.
Currently, AHT scientists manually extract DNA from over 10,000 cheek swab samples every year. This new machine will automate that process and advance our leading work investigating inherited diseases in dogs.
DNA testing of dogs can have huge positive health implications for both puppies and potentially the health and welfare of the breed as a whole. Inherited diseases, passed from one generation of dog to the next, can cause terrible suffering - many conditions have symptoms distressing for both the dog and the owner, are untreatable and frequently shorten dogs’ lives. However, with responsible breeding and DNA testing, the prevalence of these diseases can be greatly reduced, and in some cases, eradicated completely.
The AHT has an outstanding track record in this field. To date, we have discovered 18 genetic mutations and launched DNA tests that are of great benefit to more than 35 different breeds.
We have tested more than 70,000 DNA samples from dogs all over the world! None of this would be possible without charitable support from people like you. However, there remains a huge amount to do with over 300 known inherited diseases in purebred dogs alone.
With the new QIAcube we would be better able to pursue existing and new projects such as:
Breeders, breed clubs and pet owners have a special relationship with the AHT; they collaborate with us to provide DNA samples from dogs affected with inherited disorders, we identify the mutations, and the breed benefits from access to a DNA test. The AHT is the major institute in Europe offering that specialist service, that’s our niche. The QIAcube will ensure that we can continue to provide that specialist service, keeping our pets happy and healthy.
We do hope you will be able to support this special appeal by making a donation today of whatever you can afford. Every penny really will make a difference. By following the link below, you can enter the amount you'd like to donate and allocate the donation to this appeal by selecting 'Canine Genetics' from the drop down menu.
How your donation could help the English Springer Spaniel
Rebekkah Hitti, AHT geneticist and PhD student (pictured above with English Springer Spaniel, Jayfus), is currently studying for her PhD on the genetics of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a blinding and untreatable disease affecting many breeds of dog.
Part of Rebekkah’s work investigates how this inherited disease is evolving in breeds such as the English Springer Spaniel, which have already benefited from a genetic test for PRA for several years (the mutation responsible is known as CORD1). However, dogs which have the CORD1 mutation do not seem to lose their sight at the same rate. Some dogs are developing PRA at a much earlier age than others, suggesting there is a form of the disease which is early onset. Furthermore, some dogs without the mutation still develop the blinding disease.
Other genes seem to be involved and any that are identified and validated could lead to additional PRA tests in the future. In order to research this, Rebekkah has recruited nearly 1,000 DNA samples from English Springer Spaniels all over the country to determine the prevalence of the CORD1 mutation and new candidate genes associated with PRA in this breed. For more information about this project, please click here.
Having a QIAcube machine will drastically speed up the processing and sampling of projects like Rebekkah’s, enabling us to investigate disease problems more quickly and efficiently – for the benefit of so many breeds of dogs.
Advancing DNA extraction with a QIAcube
Our world class genetics team handle over 10,000 samples every year. Currently, manual DNA extraction is time consuming and limits the number of samples we can process. The planned new QIAcube machine will offer cost effective DNA extraction and advances are expected across both canine and equine DNA testing groups and our canine genetics research.
A QIAcube will save the AHT around 150 hours of mantime per year and ensure sample turnaround time is kept to a minimum. The ability to extract DNA from cells, tissues, bacteria, viruses, and food material, make the QIAcube a useful tool for other research groups at the AHT, extending its benefits further afield.
This automated DNA extraction will make a significant contribution to the efficiency of our DNA testing programme and will keep us at the forefront of DNA testing worldwide. It will enable us to offer a greater range of DNA tests to our clients providing a better service for owners and their much loved pets.
Thank you for your time.