Equine Research Introduction
The AHT Equine Genetics Research team are currently investigating the causes of a number of conditions which are known to have a genetic component. These conditions are not solely caused by a single inherited defect (or ‘mutation’), but are also determined by other contributory factors such as nutrition, exercise regime etc. The inherited aspect of the disease is also likely to be due to several mutations of varying effect. Similar conditions in the human would be coronary heart disease or diabetes, where the chances of any one person developing the condition are determined by inherited factors and also aspects of their lifestyle such as diet, exercise and smoking. For these reasons these types of conditions are referred to as “complex” or “multifactorial”.
Bearing this in mind, the types of diagnostic test which will ultimately be derived for these diseases will not be ‘black-and-white’, but will rather suggest the degree of risk which a horse may carry due to their genetic make-up. This testing will influence how the horse should be managed in the future in order to minimize the risk of disease.
In order to investigate this type of condition we rely on DNA samples taken from several hundreds of horses affected with the condition, and also, for comparison, several hundreds of unaffected horses. We restrict each study to one particular horse breed, which simplifies the genetic analysis. The DNA which we use is extracted from a small blood sample taken during a routine veterinary procedure. We rely on the cooperation and collaboration of veterinary practices and both local and international scientific collaborators to access sufficient samples for any one study.
The sequencing of the horse genome during 2006/7 has opened up many more research opportunities for equine genetics research, and makes this type of work much quicker and cheaper. The AHT are keen to take advantage of this recently available resource to make advances in this field of veterinary medicine. We have an enthusiastic and talented team who are well respected and internationally renowned and we are confident that the AHT will make great advances in this field during the next few years.
If you feel that you could be of any help to us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Your contributions make our research possible.
For general enquiries please contact
+44 (0)1638 555656
Write to us at
Animal Health Trust
DEPARTMENT OF GENETICS