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Cavalier health gets research boost


CAVALIERS ARE to benefit from a new post which has been created at the Royal Veterinary College for a Phd candidate to aid Dr Imelda McGonnell’s important research work on the chiari-like malformation (CM) and the acquired condition syringomyelia (SM).

It is now hoped by the Cavalier clubs that this will speed up the research on foetal tissue samples already started, to try to identify how the malformation occurs and to develop better testing protocols and hopefully to eventually eradicate the problem from the breed.

Dr McGonnell BSc (Hons) Ph.D spent five years working in the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at Kings College London on neural crest development, prior to joining the Royal Veterinary College, and taking up the research project into brain and skull development. Dr McGonnell is an embryologist, with a special interest in head and skull development, she is also a member of the Genes and Development Research Group at the college. Dr McGonnell is working in collaboration on this research with Dr Holger Volk Phd Head of clinical Neurology.

It was a chance remark overheard at a breeder’s seminar which led to the foetal tissue research programme being set up, when Dr McGonnell was heard to say that she was particularly interested in the genetic cause of this problem, but could not get enough foetal tissue samples.
When approached afterwards by Sheena Stevens of the Kilnshena Cavaliers, Dr McGonnell explained that she could not get enough samples from the vets in general practice. Sheena knew that to really help with this research a considerable amount of tissue would be needed, and she suggested to Dr McGonnell that perhaps the best way to get the much needed samples would be to work with the breeders, as they were the people most interested in solving this and would be willing to help by providing both samples and funding.

The new appointment will speed up research and will require further foetal tissue samples and of course more funding. At a time when everyone is having to consider carefully what they are spending, it is more than ever vital to emphasize that research still needs funding. Dr McGonnell told Our Dogs, ‘I am genuinely extremely happy to be able to share the news that, based on the report of research already conducted, the Royal Veterinary College has agreed to fund a Ph.D candidate. Looking at how much people love their dogs, I would hope this breed has a future. A few years and we can perhaps get to the bottom of this.’

Sheena Stevens told Our Dogs, ‘It is very important that as many people as possible will support this important research by donating tissue samples and raising funds.’

If anyone would like further information they can contact Sheena on kilnshena@hotmail.com

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