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AHT genetic breakthrough


In a major breakthrough at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, scientists in the UK have identified one of the ‘holy grails’ of genetic research, the mutation which causes Primary Lens Luxation in several breeds.

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) is the painful and blinding inherited eye condition which affects many breeds across the world. In affected dogs, PLL causes the fibres which support the lens within the eyeball to slacken or even disintegrate, causing misalignment or even dislocation of the lens within the eye. Depending on where the lens migrates the condition can cause glaucoma or complete loss of vision.

As a result of the research, geneticists working at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre expect to be able to formulate a DNA test to identify carriers of the mutation which will be available as early as the end of next month.

The team led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, in collaboration with Dr David Sargan (Cambridge University) and Dr David Gould (Davies Veterinary Specialists), believe the discovery could prevent the development of PLL in Terriers and several other breeds including Miniature Bull Terriers, Lancashire Heelers, Tibetan Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Patterdale Terriers, Sealyham Terriers and Chinese Crested dogs. Dr Mellersh, said: “This is an exciting discovery for many. We have identified the mutation, and very soon we’ll be able to give advice on breeding strategies. We may even be able to eradicate this awful condition and we would like to sincerely thank all the owners and breeders who have contributed DNA and information from their dogs to this project. The discovery would not have been possible without them”

In the very near future a simple test kit will be available for breeders and owners to test their dogs by collecting DNA from a simple cheek swab. The result will enable breeders to ascertain the likelihood of each dog’s risk of developing the condition. Breeders will then be able to make informed decisions about which dogs to breed from. This will minimise the risk of producing dogs that will be affected by this serious and debilitating condition.

Caroline Kisko, Communication Director at the Kennel Club, commented: “This is a major breakthrough at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre in our fight to eliminate many of the inherited diseases dogs have, all made possible with funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust”.


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