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Short Report for the Media (Dog Press) on the AHT Study to Find Genetic Markers Linked to

PRA in Tibetan Spaniels - Maureen Sharp November 2003


Beryl Grounds and I went to visit the Animal Health Trust recently and saw Matthew Binns and Cathryn Mellush. We know they have done a huge amount of work towards finding the PRA gene in Tibetan Spaniels and have gone a considerable way in getting a result. We have been advised that they have tracked down eight markers on four promising chromosomes one of which they hope might be the PRA marker but further work needs to be done. Although all blood samples are useful the results from the ones we have are inconclusive. The AHT do not have sufficient blood samples from individual families to identify if one is correct and to reject others and we are afraid we will have to wait until there are more cases and the blood is available. To date we have samples from 16 PRA cases but only have blood from approximately four families with as many as five or six specific relatives. The urgent need is for blood from a PRA affected case, the parents and siblings and if possible the grandparents. Ideally this makes a total of around 12 blood samples for each PRA case.

We believe there have been three new cases of PRA in 2001 and four in 2002 but have only been partly successful in getting blood from the individual affected dog and his relatives. This is obviously difficult in some cases when individual family members have died and there were few in the litter. There have been several where we have not received any co-operation.

Please could we urge everyone to check whether any brothers and sisters of affected dogs are available and also to check that any dogs with eye problems are tested including those that went to other homes as puppies. Obviously if a new dog is diagnosed and we already have the blood from relatives this would be very helpful. It is essential if we are to progress. In the meantime the AHT are going to see if they can get any help from the United States genome sequence and the work being done on PRA in Lhasa Apsos. We have made such progress with getting almost all the money, a substantial number of blood samples and eight possible markers and we need to get a result.

Please contact me if there are any queries or if I can be of any help. is home of the PRA Fund and the South East & East Anglian Tibetan Spaniel Society