Genetics Clinical Studies/Trials

Photo: Genetics Clinical Studies/Trials

Select for larger image

At the CCAH, faculty explore genetics and genomics to better understand pet health. Our labratories conduct clinical trials with the school's Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials to identify the genes responsible for diseases, and to subsequently develop testing for these diseases. Current and recently completed genetics studies include:

Adult-onset Addison's disease

Davis researchers are working to identify the gene mutation responsible for adult-onset Addison’s disease in the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breed, which has an increased incidence compared to the general dog population. This inherited endocrine disease is caused by an autoimmune attack of the adrenal glands, resulting in decreased production of vital hormones; the potentially-fatal disease can usually be managed by administering the missing hormones. Our researchers previously developed the genetic test for juvenile-onset Addison’s disease.

Cleft palate and cleft lip

Our researchers are currently studying the gene responsible for cleft palates and cleft lips in the Boxer, Labrador retriever and Whippet dog breeds. These common birth defects — characterized by the failure of the roof of the mouth or the lip to fuse during development — can make nursing difficult for puppies, and lead to malnourishment and aspiration pneumonia.

Canine hypertrophic osteodystrophy

In an attempt to determine which genes cause canine hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), our faculty are studying this developmental disease in Weimaraners and other susceptible breeds (rapidly growing, large dogs such as the Great Dane, Boxer, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Irish setter) between eight weeks and eight months of age. Affected puppies suffer bone pain that results in lameness or complete refusal to stand or walk. This pain is often accompanied by fever, lethargy and anorexia. In Weimaraners, HOD is often severe and sick puppies may have several episodes until complete closure of the growth plates, which often requires hospitalization for intensive care.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

One of our genetic laboratories is heavily involved in studying naturally occurring hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats, which is a common heart disease. The team is investigating the preclinical markers of disease, as well as genetic mutations related to this condition.

Ectopic ureters

The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder to move urine out of the body. Sometimes when a puppy is developing during embryogenesis, the ureters don’t connect properly into the bladder; when this occurs the ureters are called ectopic. Researchers are attempting to identify the region of the dog genome associated with ectopic ureters in Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies.