Friday, February 24, 2017
Dogs Help Researchers Unlock Genetic Links to Human Disease.
Dogs and people may suffer from similar psychiatric and neurological diseases, from canine compulsive disorder (thought to be similar to human obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD]) to canine cognitive dysfunction (similar to human dementia). Researchers are hoping that by analyzing doggy DNA, they may uncover genetic links to these conditions that could help shed light on both canine and human variations of disease. The project, called Darwin’s Dogs, is currently gathering data from thousands of dogs. Owners answer detailed questionnaires and send in a saliva sample, which will be used to collect the dog’s DNA. The researchers then plan to analyze the DNA samples and compare each dog’s genetics to its behaviors. Dogs have played a role in the discovery of genes linked to human diseases like epilepsy, narcolepsy and OCD. OCD in dogs (known as canine compulsive disorder), for instance, can manifest as repetitive tail chasing or licking an area of the body so obsessively that it causes a wound (although obsessive licking may also be caused by gastrointestinal disorders) more