March 17, 2020
Since humans first began selectively breeding dogs roughly seven thousand years ago a vast number of new dog breeds have been created. Unfortunately, due to the sustained selective breeding some of our beloved dog breeds are susceptible to health conditions. One example is the loss of vision in miniature Schnauzers, which is caused by degeneration of the retina, known as retinal atrophy.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki have now been able to successfully identify the genetic cause of this condition. They were able to discover a gene on chromosome 15 that, when mutated, resulted in blindness in Schnauzers. This gene regulates the function of two other genes, so when it becomes mutated the two genes become overactive which causes the blindness.
This new discovery will allow for the creation of a reliable genetic test that dog breeders will be able to use to ensure any dogs they are breeding do not contain this mutation, and for veterinarians to use to test for retinal atrophy in Schnauzers and other dogs. Retinal atrophy is similar to retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which affects humans, so this genetic discovery in dogs could also lead to changes in the way the human condition is diagnosed and treated.
Source: Phys Org
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