Scientists from the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust have identified a mutation that causes progressive retinal atrophy in golden retrievers. PRA is a retinal disease that causes loss of vision and leads to blindness.
Scientists from the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) have identified a mutation that causes progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in golden retrievers.
PRA is a retinal disease that causes loss of vision and leads to blindness. It cannot be treated, so the most successful way to combat the inherited condition is to identify dogs that carry the mutation and develop informed breeding strategies.
By identifying the genetic mutation that causes the most common form of PRA among golden retrievers in Europe (GR_PRA1), the AHT has been able to develop a new DNA test to identify carriers.
The mutation that causes a second form of PRA is still to be identified.
Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, said: “Our research shows that this mutation is present in the UK golden retriever population, so it’s likely that several hundred new carriers are being born each year and that golden retrievers are invariably going blind as a result.
“This new DNA test will enable breeders to learn whether their dogs are carriers of the mutation. This, in turn, will enable them to make better informed breeding decisions and therefore produce puppies which will not go blind as a result of this mutation.”
Mike Townsend, chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “This is a real breakthrough and one which we hope will help to prevent blindness in many golden retrievers in the years to come. Our knowledge about inherited diseases in dogs is growing every day and the development of DNA tests such as this one allows breeders to ensure that the healthiest genes are passed down through the generations.”
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has committed £1.2 million to the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, which will undertake research into approximately 25 inherited diseases over the next five years, facilitating the creation of further diagnostic tests to improve the health and welfare of generations of dogs.
Full information on the golden retrievers PRA DNA test, and information on ordering sample kits, will be available from www.aht.org.uk from November 15.