DALMATIANS PARTICIPATE IN THE ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST’S ‘GIVE A DOG A GENOME’ PROJECT
The four Dalmatian Clubs are to be congratulated for jointly funding the participation of our Breed in the Give a Dog a Genome (‘GDG’) Project.
The Clubs’ combined contribution of £1000 is matched by an equal contribution from the KC Charitable Trust, in order to fund the total cost of £2000 for each participating breed.
When the Project was launched, it was intended that the complete sequencing of the genome of each of 50 breeds would be undertaken. The AHT has been so surprised and delighted by the enthusiasm for the Project, and the speed of uptake of places, that it is seeking additional funding to extend the study to 75 breeds in this first phase. A second phase is also likely in 2017.
What will the Project involve?
For each participating breed, the complete genome sequence will be determined. This means that the DNA sequence of some 2.4 billion base units will be recorded. Some regions of this sequence are what we refer to as ‘genes’, whilst much of the DNA sequence is benign. Sometimes genes mutate, and these mutations can be the origin of certain inherited diseases.
How will the Project benefit Dalmatians?
It is a more a case of the Project having a broader mutual benefit to all participating breeds, rather than being of specific benefit to Dalmatians (though it may very well do so at some stage). The DNA sequence of each breed will be compared with all the other (49 or 74) breeds, which will assist in the identification of genetic mutations for each breed, including those which cause inherited diseases. This in turn will represent a basis upon which specific DNA tests can be developed. The Project is not a short term one, or one of only short term benefit. It will result in a unique and invaluable canine genome bank. Indeed, as the AHT states:-
‘Give a Dog a Genome will revolutionise canine genetics research and is therefore a hugely important project to the future of dog health.’
How many Dalmatians will take part in the Project?
One! Or to be precise, only one example of each breed will benefit from the KC Charitable funding. There is no limit to how many dogs can take part, but those in excess of ‘one’ per breed will cost £2000 each.
How will the Dalmatian be chosen?
The final choice will be made by the AHT. It might choose an older dog which has led a healthy and (in that context) uneventful life. Alternatively, it could choose to sequence a dog which suffers from an inherited disease of concern to the breed .
When will results be available from the Project?
It is hoped that initial comparative data will be available by the year end, though of course it must be recognised that the number of breeds has been increased since this target was first indicated.
A wealth of further information is available on the AHT website at www.aht.org.uk/gdg, which is well worth taking the time to visit. (Also, the AHT is infinitely better than me in explaining the Project and its genetics background!). You will find how the Project will be undertaken, the list of participating breeds, and much more. Simply follow the links from the GDG home page, but be sure to take the opportunity to follow the link ‘Success so far’ in order to see what has been achieved through whole genome sequencing for Vizslas and PBGVs. That link alone demonstrates the value and power of the Project.