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Breakthrough discovery leads to powerful genetic test

The challenge was posed nearly forty years ago; the trail has been hot
for the last two. Long-standing partnerships have resulted in advances
in diagnosing and understanding hip dysplasia in dogs, a disease that occurs when a specific combination of genes exists and results in hip osteoarthritis and disability.

Research indicates that, in addition to Labrador Retrievers, discoveries
in the diagnosis and treatment of hip dysplasia will assist other breeds
including Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Rottweilers,
German Shepherds and Newfoundland dogs, and has the potential to offer
insights into similar diseases in other mammals.

In 2007, with grant support from the Morris Animal Foundation and Pfizer
Incorporated, Dr. George Lust and colleagues Dr. Rory Todhunter, Steven
Friedenberg and Dr. Zhiwu Zhang discovered the first panel of genetic markers that could lead to genetic testing for the diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia. With a new sample of dogs, they plan to verify the accuracy of this panel of genetic markers for hip conformation that can predict the breeding value of the dog.

A breakthrough in diagnosis, these genetic tests are expected to be more
accurate than current procedures, less expensive to perform, and enable
earlier identification of both normal dogs and those at risk for hip
dysplasia. Genetic tests may also reduce the need for progeny testing.

"This has been a long-sought goal," says Dr. Lust. "Now, with one DNA
sample we are on the road to telling if a young dog will develop
normally. We will not need to wait until the dog is old enough to
undergo the current radiographic screening."

The research team also identified a mutation in the gene for fibrillin 2
that segregates in a sample of dysplastic dogs and non-dysplastic dogs.
Fibrillin 2 is a gene expressed in the tissue of hip joints. This is the
first gene reported to be associated with canine hip dysplasia. The
discovery opens opportunities for defining the biochemical basis of the disease.

In other related research, Dr. Lust partnered with Dr. Bernard G.
Steinetz at the New York University Medical Center to study the
relationship of two milk-borne hormones---relaxin and estrogen---to the
onset of hip dysplasia. In a controlled study, the investigators concluded that early anti-hormone treatments may be able to negate the effects of the
milk-borne hormones as they relate to induction of canine hip

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