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Report on PRA in Tibetan Spaniels - Maureen Sharp February 2005


Beryl Grounds and I visited the Animal Health Trust today. We were told that in December 2004 a $30 million project, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in the United States, had been completed. The entire sequence of dog DNA is now known and is available to all researchers worldwide. This significant advance should make the quest to find the gene that causes PRA in Tibetan Spaniels considerably easier. The AHT has just received funding from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to investigate 23 genes that are known to be involved either with PRA in other breeds of dog or with very similar diseases in humans and dogs, to check whether any play a role in PRA in Tibetan spaniels. This is known as a candidate gene approach. Prior to the availability of the whole canine genome sequence a candidate gene analysis was too lengthy and expensive an approach to consider unless a genomic region had first been identified, They are proposing to start the work in March and the initial phase is expected to take approximately three months. If this approach is successful, and they have some hope that this will be the case, they will then proceed onto designing the DNA test for Tibetan Spaniels. Hopefully by this time next year significant progress towards a test will have been made.

In the meantime they are still needing blood samples from any new cases of PRA and the families involved. We understand that there is a new case in Sweden, one in Finland and one in the USA. We have been in contact with the people involved and are hoping that blood samples from each PRA case and their family will be available to the Animal Health Trust in the near future. As you know the problem in getting the solution to PRA in Tibetan Spaniels is the fact that the disease is usually of late onset, the small size of litters and the relatively small number of affected dogs. It is therefore important to get all the applicable blood samples.

The Animal Health Trust gratefully acknowledges the financial contribution made towards the work by the Tibetan Spaniel PRA Fund and the American Kennel Club.

Maureen Sharp (Co-ordinator - PRA Fund) - 2 February 2005 is home of the PRA Fund and the South East & East Anglian Tibetan Spaniel Society