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Accurate ‘new’ copper toxicosis test
debunked by Bedlington Breeders

BEDLINGTON TERRIER enthusiasts have expressed their deep concern over claims by a company claiming to have devised a "100% accurate" scientific test that has located the actual gene responsible for causing congenital Copper Toxicosis in Bedlington Terriers.

David Taylor, the Chairman of the respected Bedlington Terrier Health Group told OUR DOGS:

"Recently a number of owners and breeders of Bedlington Terriers have been contacted by phone, by a market research company who have asked if they would be prepared to have a home visit by one of their local researchers to participate in a survey regarding ‘the health of the Bedlington Terrier’, it was also stated that any person taking part would be offered £15 to cover their inconvenience."

.According to the breeders and owners, it turned out that the purpose of this visit was to ascertain the interest in a proposed breed specific diet for the Bedlington Terrier, to be possibly marketed by a London-based company called "Unique".

Mr Taylor continues: "A series of questions was asked following the person being interviewed being given a leaflet to read. The disturbing aspect contained within this leaflet was that – and I quote: ‘Unique has now developed a test that locates the actual gene responsible and is therefore 100% accurate’. It then went on to state that ‘The Unique test is a breakthrough in genetic research developed in co-operation with the University of Utrecht that looks inside the gene which controls copper metabolism’."

The leaflet contains the misleading next statement that: "A sample of DNA can be collected as a swab from your dog’s mouth. This sample can easily be collected by you or your vet and sent to Unique for analysis. We extract the DNA from cells present on the mouth swab and read the sequence of the copper gene to accurately identify which form your dog carries. In a few days you will receive the results and recommendations for the lifetime care of your dog.’

Mr Taylor issued a warning to Bedlington Terrier enthusiasts via OUR DOGS: "As far as The Bedlington Terrier Health Group (formed by representatives from the committees of the three breed clubs) are concerned we are not aware that a 100% test for Copper Toxicosis has been developed. The latest information that we have from the University of Utrecht is that the scientist responsible, Bart Van de Sluis, has finished his PhD whereby he found a gene MURR1 that is involved in Copper Toxicosis in the Bedlington Terrier. A problem has arisen in that although this test of the MURR1 gene appears 100% accurate in the European Bedlingtons tested at Utrecht, anomalies have occurred in some UK and USA Bedlingtons.

Therefore before we can state we have a definitive test, further investigation is required."
The secretaries of the National Bedlington Terrier Club and The Bedlington Terrier Association have been in contact with Jeff Sampson, Genetics Co-ordinator at the Kennel Club to make him aware of this market research. Mr Sampson stated that names, addresses & telephone numbers have not been supplied from the KC, so it would appear that they have been taken from show catalogues.

David Taylor concludes: "Who this ‘Unique’ company is we do not know, nor anything about them. It appears from the market research that should this test ever come into production it will only be available either by mail order or via the Internet. The £15 inducement turned out to be a £5 gift voucher.

As for DNA testing, the ONLY laboratory that currently undertakes Genetic MARKER testing is The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket."

OUR DOGS has a copy of one of Unique’s "Care For Bedlington Terrier" leaflets and can confirm the claims made therein. We contacted the market research company responsible for promoting Unique’s products, Martin Hamlin JFK, a London-based organisation, but nobody seemed to be aware of a client known as Unique.

When an individual who had knowledge of the product was located, he was rather reticent in his comments and advised us that he would issue a statement with information on the genetic test. However, at the time of going to press, no such statement was received.