Dog DNA in Australia gives diabetes and MS clues

Thu, 06 Jul 2006
Researchers in Melbourne, Australia are examining dog DNA in an aim to determine the genetic causes of common pet diseases, and potentially provide a model to combat diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and diabetes amongst humans.

The researchers were led by an expert from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne. Using DNA taken from 100 dogs, researchers aimed to determine what causes diseases such as diabetes and MS.

The research has been backed by a grant from the Canine Research Foundation, and aimed to look at the genetic cause of diseases of the immune system. The aim of the study is to investigate a particular group of proteins within the white blood cells of dogs. The team used molecular biology to seek genetic components of the affected dogs. The DNA sequences should be able to determine if any specific genetic patterns were responsible for causing certain diseases.

Dr. Holloway, the expert in charge of the study, said that: "If we can determine the genetic elements responsible for autoimmunity we may be better able to study how to prevent or treat these illnesses. From the point of view of a breeder we may be able to provide genetic counselling to avoid breeding dogs with susceptibility to diseases of the immune system. The research will have a double benefit because any knowledge we can gain from creating and testing new treatments for dogs could also be relevant to humans. If a disease is present we can more quickly make a direct correlation for susceptibility to a disease with a specific genetic pattern."
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