The DNA collection initiative was decided upon towards the end of April 2006 and co-operation with the Animal Health Trust (AHT) started immediately thereafter. The first blood sample had been received by the AHT by the tenth of May and this was swiftly followed by buccal swabs from a litter of puppies. The interest and uptake thereafter has been very encouraging, although more active participation is needed if we are going to succeed in achieving the numbers required for research to begin. The number of DNA samples held in store for us is now a total of 36. Three of these are blood samples and the rest are in the form of buccal swabs. A further 21 swab kits have been dispatched in 2007 but are not yet in storage. There are as yet no samples from affected animals, but quite a few close relatives have contributed theirs.
One animal has recently sadly died from suspected Skye Terrier Renal Dysplasia. No autopsy or histology was done and this case can therefore only be regarded as suspect, although strongly so. There was unfortunately no tissue or blood available for DNA testing. Blood sample has however been secured from the Dam. Several dogs have, over the last few years, been so tragically lost prematurely due to the kidney disease. No DNA is however left behind for science to work with. Would it not therefore not be for the better of the breed if all breeders did swab their puppies before they left to go to new homes? This seems, to me at least, to be the obvious solution to prevent that potentially vital DNA is lost for future genetic research.
Mike Taylor did send me a mailing from the KC’s Charitable Trust inviting breed clubs to apply for research funding. This is somewhat premature in our case since we are still lacking in samples. I did also have this confirmed by both Dr Sampson and Dr Mellersh. The future procedure, when enough samples have been collected, will be an application for funding to the KC directly from the AHT. But, and this is important, the Kennel Club will expect that the breed club shows its support by contributing some funding itself. It would therefore be advisable to already now start some fundraising. I don’t think that the £120 donated to the AHT so far from swab-donations and private donations will be regarded as quite enough somehow.
No other health problems have been reported during 2006 but it should be remembered that the Health Committee is not just about kidney disease. Any disease, be it of the liver, heart, pancreas etc. or forms of cancer or congenital conditions, should ideally be reported too. That kind of continued monitoring of the general incidence of disease has been ongoing long-term in very many breeds. This is the only way to find out if any problem becomes prevalent in a breed since questionnaires are pretty useless. It is therefore important that such reporting becomes effective in our precious and wonderful breed too.
Maud Hawkes BSc (Hons) Animal Science
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Tel: 01623 812856, if you want to discuss or report any health matters in confidentiality, or if you require swab kits!