Published: 25/01/2016 11:20:38
GIVE A DOG A GENOME
Breed communities urged to pledge £1,000 in support of new Animal Health Trust initiative to create UK’s largest canine genome bank by sequencing genomes of 50 different breeds of dog
Give a Dog a Genome is a brand new initiative from the AHT to improve dog health by using the latest technology available in genetics research.
The Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, under Dr Cathryn Mellersh, is world-renowned for its pioneering genetic research to better understand, and eradicate, inherited diseases in purebred dogs. Give a Dog a Genome seeks to take this expertise to the next level by using the latest technology to sequence the entire genomes (all 2.4 billion letters of DNA) of 50 dogs, from 50 different breeds, by the end of 2016 to radically enhance understanding of the canine genome.
DNA is a string of A, C, G & Ts, - if each was 1mm long the whole genome of a dog would stretch from Lands End to John O’Groats and back again! Geneticists at the AHT are aiming to analyse 50 of these, with the help of high-tech computers, to better understand which changes in the DNA are neutral and which cause disease.
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, said: “The AHT has been making significant improvements to dog health through genetics for over 20 years, but the knowledge we have the potential to gain from this project could very quickly accelerate us forward another 20 years.
“The DNA tests we develop from our research are incredibly powerful in helping breeders to better control, and in time, eradicate, inherited diseases from their lines. Give a Dog a Genome is the start of something really new and exciting in terms of better understanding the canine genome and optimising how this knowledge can be used to improve dog health, but we need support from individual breeds to do so.”
Appeal for support
The AHT is appealing to breed communities to help fund this project to maximise the number of genomes that can be sequenced and subsequently the health benefits for purebred dogs.
In order to double the number of genomes that can be sequenced, the AHT is asking stakeholders for each breed (owners, breeders, Breed Clubs etc.) to raise £1,000, with each donation being matched by £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to meet the £2,000 required to sequence each genome. In return, the AHT will sequence the entire genome of a dog from that breed until 50 breeds have been sequenced, creating a large and diverse canine genome bank.
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, continued: “Give a Dog a Genome represents an unprecedented initiative to utilise the latest DNA sequencing technology available to the Animal Health Trust to improve the health of all pure bred dogs and countless future generations of dogs, which is why we want this project to have the maximum impact it can.
“We’re appealing to breed communities for their help to double the funding we currently have available, and therefore the number of genomes we can sequence in 2016. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has made a significant contribution of £50,000 to this project, enough to sequence 25 genomes, but, by adopting a crowdfunding approach, we hope to receive donations of £1,000 from 50 different breeds which will enable us to double the number of genomes we can sequence.
“In return for their donation, the breed will represent one of the 50 genomes sequenced and help to make a significant contribution to the future of canine genetics research. Every genome we sequence represents a permanent resource which will contribute towards our research for years to come, to benefit all breeds - not just those 50 we can sequence now.”
Aimee Llewellyn, Head of Health and Research at the Kennel Club, said: “The Give a Dog a Genome project will have a substantial positive impact on the future health of purebred dogs, and is another example of the pioneering work being carried out by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust.
“Advances in science such as this one enable dog breeders to make even more informed breeding decisions to ensure they are doing all they can to help eliminate inherited conditions in dogs and this is a wonderful opportunity for breed clubs, breeders and owners to collectively raise £1,000 to put towards their breed’s future, which the Kennel Club Charitable Trust will match, to help preserve and improve the health of their much-loved breed.”
By sequencing DNA from 50 different breeds of dog the genome bank will be as diverse as possible and will vastly increase the pace of canine genetics research and the speed with which new DNA tests are developed.
Breeds will be selected on a first come first served basis until the 50 places have all been allocated. All enquiries can be made through Breed Health Coordinators who will liaise directly with the AHT.
For more information please go to: www.aht.org.uk/gdg
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