A mutation responsible for Primary Lens Luxation (PLL), a painful andblinding inherited eye condition, has been indentified by scientists at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre.

Geneticists working in the centre at the Animal Health Trust expect a DNA test to identify carriers of the mutation to be available by late October 2009.

UK scientists save terriers from blinding condition

The team led by Cathryn Mellersh, in collaboration with David Sargan (Cambridge University) and David Gould (Davies Veterinary Specialists), believe the discovery could prevent the development of PLL in several breeds of terriers.

Miniature Bull Terriers, Lancashire Heelers, Tibetan Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Patterdale Terriers, Sealyham Terriers and Chinese Crested dogs will all benefit from the findings.

Dr Mellersh said: “This is an exciting discovery for many breeds of dogs across the world. We have identified the mutation, and soon well be able to give advice on breeding strategies. Hopefully in time well eradicate this awful condition from many breeds of dogs.

“In the near future a simple test kit will be available for breeders and owners to test their dogs. It will be possible to collect DNA from a simple cheek swab.”

According to Dr Mellersh, the DNA test will enable breeders to ascertain the likelihood of each dogs risk of developing PLL. Breeders will then be able to make informed decisions about which dogs to breed. This will minimise the risk of producing dogs that will become affected by the serious and debilitating condition.

In affected dogs PLL causes fibres which support the lens to breakdown or disintegrate, causing the lens to fall into the wrong place in the eye. Depending on where the lens falls, it can cause glaucoma or loss of vision.

Caroline Kisko

Caroline Kisko, communication director at the Kennel Club, said: “This is truly a major breakthrough at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre in our fight to eliminate many of the inherited diseases dogs have, all made possible with funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.”

“PLL is a painful and blinding condition, and we hope once the DNA test is available at the end of next month we will be able to eliminate this condition altogether.”

Dr Mellersh added: “We would like to sincerely thank all the owners and breeders who have contributed DNA and information from their dogs to this project. The discovery would not have been possible without them.”

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