Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Man's Best Friend Recruited in the Hunt for Disease Genes

16.10.2008
For centuries man has had a uniquely close relationship with dogs - as a working animal, for security and, perhaps most importantly, for companionship. Now, dogs are taking on a new role - they are helping in the hunt for genetic mutations that lead to diseases in humans.

"Dogs get very similar diseases to humans," said Kerstin Lindblad-Toh of Uppsala University in Sweden and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "If you ask a dog owner what sort of conditions their pets get, they will say cancer, allergies, eye diseases."

Lindblad-Toh was speaking at the European Science Foundation's 3rd Functional Genomics Conference, held in Innsbruck, Austria, on 1-4 October. Functional genomics describes the way in which genes and their products, proteins, interact together in complex networks in living cells. If these interactions are abnormal, diseases can result. The Innsbruck meeting brought together more than 450 scientists from across Europe to discuss recent advances in the role of functional genomics in disease.

Many canine diseases could share the same genetic basis in humans and dogs, Lindblad-Toh told the conference, and because dogs have been bred into clear isolated populations - the different breeds - it is often easier to detect a genetic flaw that leads to a disease than it is in humans. Once the rogue gene has been found in the dog, it could make it easier look for mutations in the same gene in man.

"For example we have found genetic mutation that results in a condition called day blindness that can affect dachshunds," Lindblad-Toh said. A similar condition can arise in humans, and analysis of the mutated protein in the dog is providing new information about the disease in man. The team is also looking at genes associated with cancer of the blood vessels to which golden retrievers are prone.

A new European consortium has been set up called LUPA, where twenty veterinary schools from 12 countries spread across Europe will work together to collect 10,000 DNA samples from purebred dogs, comparing healthy animals with those affected by similar diseases as human. The analysis of the genome of affected dogs compared to healthy ones of the same breed will lead to the identification of genes implied in the mechanisms of these diseases. The four-year project aims initially to pinpoint genetic markers for dog diseases and help to reduce the high level of inherited disease in purebred dogs. The identification of these genes implied in disease development will help to understand the mechanisms and pathways of the pathology.

For example in Sweden, more than one-third of English Springer Spaniels are diagnosed with mammary tumours, analogous to breast cancers in humans. An increased risk for malignant mammary tumours has been reported also in other breeds, including Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds and Boxers, suggesting that these breeds may carry genetic risk factors for this type of cancer. If the genes implicated in the disease can be singled out this could provide a new opportunity to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human breast cancer.

"We want to find a lot of risk factors and bring them back to human patients over the next few years," Lindblad-Toh said.

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/ffg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>