Published: 03/10/2016 14:08:24
BREED HEALTH SUMMARY IDENTIFIES MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS THAT WILL SHAPE AHT CANINE GENETICS RESEARCH
Breeds supporting the Give a Dog a Genome project have summarised their top three health concerns to help ensure research has maximum health benefits.
Self-reported information from 66 of the 75 breeds involved in the Give a Dog a Genome (GDG) project has highlighted epilepsy as the disease that concerns most breeders, even if it is not the most statistically prevalent condition in those breeds.
Listed by 15 of the breeds to complete a Give a Dog a Genome breed health summary, epilepsy is the biggest single health concern reported to the AHT by this specific group of dog breeds. This supports the AHT’s on-going efforts to identify the genetic mutations likely to be responsible for epilepsy, a devastating neurological disease that is genetically complex and which can affect dogs differently making it a challenge to diagnose, treat and prevent.
Prior to the Give a Dog a Genome project, launched earlier this year, the AHT has been focusing its genetic investigation into canine epilepsy in two breeds; the Italian Spinone and the Border Collie. The prospect of sequencing the whole genomes of dogs affected with epilepsy from additional breeds as part of the Give a Dog a Genome project could add crucial resource to these studies.
The second most commonly listed health concern identified through the breed health summary was hereditary cataracts, listed by seven of the breeds. The Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT has had success launching DNA tests for hereditary cataracts in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier and French Bulldog and is currently investigating hereditary cataracts in several more breeds, including the Labrador Retriever.
Overall, 80 different disorders were reported with the following conditions listed by multiple breeds: progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, lymphoma and patella luxation (listed by six breeds) as well as autoimmune disorders and dilated cardiomyopathy (listed by five breeds).
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust, said: “Undertaking this short health summary has given us the opportunity to gain insight into the different inherited disorders that are of most concern to breeders at this time, which will help us select the 75 dogs whose DNA will soon be sequenced.
“This information has been really important in helping ensure we’re working with each breed to select a dog whose whole genome sequence data will have the most potential to support existing and new genetics research projects - both at the AHT and elsewhere - and to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places.
“It’s been encouraging to see that we’re already trying to tackle some of the biggest concerns; epilepsy and hereditary cataracts, and hope to start looking at other disorders highlighted here once we’ve started analysing the whole genome sequence data of these 75 breeds, which is in itself going to be no easy task!”
Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi, Head of Health and Research at the Kennel Club, added: “It is interesting to see which inherited disorders may be of concern to breeders and compare these to which disorders are most prevalent in the respective breeds to get an overall picture of a breed’s health.
“The breeds that have submitted their concerns are those that are involved in the pioneering Give a Dog a Genome project and they clearly care deeply about their breeds. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the project will have on the future health of purebred dogs, by helping to eliminate inherited conditions in our much-loved breeds.”
About the breed health summary:
Breed Health Co-ordinators for the 75 breeds participating in the Give a Dog a Genome project were asked to discuss the top three health concerns with their breed health community and report back to the AHT on current evidence of the concern and reference any research already being carried out by other institutions. As such this activity serves as a breed health summary specific to the Give a Dog a Genome project, not a wider breed health survey.
About Give a Dog a Genome:
The Give a Dog a genome project was launched at the beginning of 2016 with the aim of creating the UK’s largest canine genome bank as an invaluable tool for better understanding the basis of canine genetic diseases, to the potential benefit of all dog breeds.
Match-funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, all research findings generated from whole genome sequencing a dog from 75 different breeds will contribute towards the AHT’s ability to pinpoint changes in DNA which cause inherited disease in purebred dogs faster. This will have a knock on effect on the rate at which new DNA tests can be developed to help dog breeders breed healthier dogs. In time, DNA tests can be used effectively to eliminate an inherited disease from a breed safely.
For more information, and to see the list of 75 breeds taking part in the study, please go to: www.aht.org.uk/gdg
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