Published: 23/11/2012 11:01:35
new dna test to fight degenerative neurological disease in parson russell terriers
Scientists from our Kennel Club Genetics Centre have successfully identified a genetic mutation which causes a severe progressive disease in Parson Russell Terriers (PRTs).
Late onset ataxia (LOA) affects coordination and balance, making everyday movement and tasks increasingly difficult. Our new DNA test can accurately predict the risk of developing the disease in 97-100 per cent of PRTs and will effectively reduce the number of LOA cases in the breed.
Dogs usually develop the disease between six months and one year of age but because there is no cure, sufferers are usually euthanised around two years after onset as their quality of life diminishes.
After testing DNA of over 200 PRTs in total, our scientists were able to isolate the genetic mutation which causes the disease and establish that LOA is an inherited recessive trait; therefore dogs must have two defective copies of the genetic mutation, one from each parent, to be affected.
The test results will inform dog owners if their dog is clear from, a carrier of, or affected by LOA.
Cathryn Mellersh, our Head of Canine Genetics, said: “This is great news for PRT breeders as we believe LOA is an emerging condition in the breed and through this test we should be able to cut the disorder ‘off at the pass’, before the mutation becomes any more widespread.
“Interestingly, our research also suggests that there may be other causes of ataxia in the breed. It is important for breeders to understand that a clear result using the LOA DNA test will not exclude the formal possibility that dogs could still develop a genetically different form of ataxia.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “LOA is a relatively new but devastating condition and we are delighted that we’ve been able to work with the Animal Health Trust to develop a DNA test that will give breeders the opportunity to significantly reduce this disease. We will keep working together to develop tools and information for breeders, so that they are able to select dogs that will have healthy puppies.”
We would like to thank all the individuals and breed clubs who, within a matter of weeks, raised £5,000 to enable the research into this condition, and consequently develop a DNA test. We would also like to thank all the Parson Russell Terriers and their owners who have contributed DNA and information to help us with our research into LOA.
The DNA test for LOA is available from us at the price of £48. Full details can be found at www.ahtdnatesting.co.uk
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