Scientists scouring the genome to better understand complex human diseases are looking to an unlikely ally for guidance: our pets.
Dogs have been an integral part of human life for centuries. It is precisely because of that intertwined history that dogs are a potentially powerful tool for researchers seeking the genetic roots of everything from psychiatric disorders to cancer - just two of the ailments that are similar in both humans and dogs.
Last month, scientists studying Doberman pinschers with a compulsive behavior disorder similar to human obsessive-compulsive disorder found a gene associated with the condition. The genetic hit is now being followed by other researchers, who are studying the same gene in human patients with OCD, in hopes the clue from man’s best friend may help explain the disease in people..." More
Jan 6, 2009: Canine compulsive disorder gene identified in dogs
A canine chromosome 7 locus that confers a high risk of compulsive disorder susceptibility has been identified through a collaboration between the Behavior Service at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Program in Medical Genetics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The findings are published in the January 2010 edition of Molecular Psychiatry.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by time consuming, repetitive behaviors and affects about 2 percent of humans, while the equally distressing canine equivalent, canine compulsive disorder, or CCD, seems to target certain dog breeds, especially Dobermans and Bull Terriers. For over a decade, behaviorists Drs. Dodman and Moon-Fanelli, at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine collected blood samples from carefully characterized Doberman patients exhibiting flank- and/or blanket-sucking compulsive behaviors, as well as healthy, unaffected Doberman. In 2001, Edward Ginns, PhD, MD, head of the Program in Medical Genetics at UMass Medical School, joined the effort, enabling genetic studies that culminated in the genome wide association study that began in 2007 using the canine Affymetrix genotyping array at the Broad Institute..." More