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Canine Sense - Did You Know

Check out these articles by Dr. Stanley Coren (BC, Canada) Canine Corner

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Did You Know - Humans can have Severe Wrinkling?

Genetics - the WHY in Science Has Always Amazed Me
Found today the following link to a BBC News report, discussing how scientists have been studying the genes of the Shar-pei - known as the wrinkle dog - and have found differences in a gene known as the HAS2 which makes an enzyme known to be important in the production of the skin.

You can read the report here with a host of other links ... and yes, 'There are rare human cases where there are mutations that lead to really severe wrinkly in humans, too."!!! Learnt something new today!

They go on to say how say the pedigree dog has become a fascination - and a remarkably useful research tool for geneticists. These discrete populations give scientists the opportunity to compare and contrast the genetics of the different groups, making it easier to find the causes of specific traits.

So, our Purebred dogs, that man has worked at creating for more than 10,000 years thru selective breeding, is providing scientists with very good 'windows' to find important genes that might help to reveal why and how diseases come about. Because we have certain breeds that have a higher incident of certain diseases, researchers can narrow in on certain markers that might be the gene 'trigger'. To do this in humans would be very difficult - families are too small, have too few generations alive at the same time, thus an insufficient number of samples to look at. Purebred dogs will offer science the opportunity to rapidly locate faulty genes.

Scientists have already had success locating a gene responsible for kidney cancer, and clinical trials are underway to try to treat some of these cancers by blocking the biochemical pathways thought to be involved. Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, along with a UK team, have marked the EPM2 gene which is believed to cause a form of epilepsy.

While we know certain purebreds are predisposed to certain ailments, and we breeders try to do our best to screen our breeding stock with what testing is available, breed through known knowledge of healthy lines, we will see in the future (wonder how/if in my lifetime ?), more ways to breed healthier, more long-lived dogs? Researches say, we've already shown a real willingness to get genetic tests & redesign our breeding programs accordingly.

So I say to those that say, 'mutts (or designer dogs) are healthier' because their genes are 'mixed', are they really? there are no data bases that track their diseases, no data bases that screen out potential problems before they are bred, and it seems right now, they are not canines that researchers are using in the leading edge of breaking the genome down. Have my flame suit on here.

Scientists have turned to our (purebreed) 'best friend' to help make our world healthier! That pleases me to no end. I just wish I had entered this field of studies back in the early 1980's .... guess I'll just have to be on the receiving end.


Kav January 15, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

This was an interesting read -- a whole area I've never thought much about. I certainly appreciate the effort and science that goes into breeding dogs as I've reaped the benefits with 4 shelties and a corgi. And now, here's another way that dog serves as man's best friend.


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