July 14, 2005 It is well known that certain breeds of dog are more susceptible than others to particular diseases or conditions. Scientists at Imperial College London, working with the Kennel Club, are moving closer to understanding the underlying genetic predisposition to diseases -- and because the canine genome is very similar to the human genome the research could lead to healthier humans as well as healthier dogs.
The scientists, part funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) through the LINK Applied Genomics Programme, are using data from the extensive breed records of the UK Kennel Club, the country's premier register of purebred dogs for over a century. The records and swab samples from dogs' mouths will be used to identify the differences and similarities of the DNA sequences in diseased and healthy dogs. The pedigree records from the Kennel Club will be used to improve the accuracy of the analyses on the genetic data. The results form this research will help identify the genetic variation underlying inborn diseases in dogs and could be a starting point for a better understanding of genetic diseases in humans.
Professor David Balding, leader of the research team at Imperial College, said, "If we can understand these important genes we will be able to design better nutrition and veterinary drugs for dogs. Breeders will also have a much more accurate way of avoiding crosses that could increase the likelihood of disease."
Professor Julia Goodfellow, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said, " Research like this is not only important to improve the health, welfare and veterinary care of dogs but it may also provide valuable insights into human diseases."
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