The following is from The AHT's Annual Review 2017/2018 and, although our breed is not specifically mentioned, it is heartening that there are already positive results from the Give a Dog a Genome project and that there is international collaboration between researchers. 

Leading the fight against inherited disease in dogs

The AHT Canine Genetics Research Group is a unique collaboration with The Kennel Club Charitable Trust who provide generous funding. Thanks to this, and additional funding from other major funders, the Group developed six new DNA tests, each based on a mutation responsible for a different inherited disease in dogs: a record number of new tests launched in a single year. Notably, one of these tests was the result of a collaboration with international researchers, utilising part of the AHT’s pioneering Give a Dog a Genome data.

Since the AHT launched the Give a dog a Genome project in 2016, there has been interest in this project from researchers all over the world and in turn the AHT’s international recognition for canine genetic research has increased.  Subsequently, the team has been able to share key sequence data with other research institutions to advance their genetic investigations accordingly, and to help develop new DNA tests for dogs as quickly as possible.

The new tests developed in 2017 by the AHT were: retinopathy in the Swedish Vallhund, primary open angle glaucoma and primary lens luxation  (POAG and PLL) in the Shar Pei, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in the Lhasa Apso, oculoskeltal dysplasia in the Northern Inuit and cerebellar ataxia in the Norwegian Buhund. And, in collaboration with the University of Missouri and Wisdom Heath, the AHT co launched a DNA test for shaking puppy syndrome (Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy or SLEM) in Border Terriers.

In 2017 an unprecedented amount of work has been undertaken at the AHT on the Give a Dog a Genome project to manage the huge task of sequencing the entire genome of 89 dogs from 77 different breeds.

Give a Dog a Genome, which is generously funded by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and individual breed communities, will use the genome sequencing data of these 89 dogs to create the UK’s largest canine genome bank, in order to accelerate our canine genetics research and the speed at which new genetic mutations are identified and new DNA tests are developed.

The project originally aimed to engage just 75 breeds and sequence the genome of one dog from each of those breeds. We are pleased to report that the project was extremely popular, with lots of breed communities being extremely keen to be involved and some opting to pay for more than one dog’s DNA to be sequenced leading us to sequence 89 DNA samples in total.

The data we have generated for this project so far is already being applied to on-going research projects, at the AHT and other institutions.  The benefit of generating such a large amount of genome sequence data, and creating such a comprehensive canine genome bank, is that the data can be applied to a very wide range of inherited disease investigations, potentially helping to improve the health of all breeds of dog over time, beyond the 77 specifically involved with the project now.

The focus for 2018 will be to start to analyse the genomes in more detail, however this work will span over several years and therefore the order of an analysis will be prioritised accordingly.