For many years, the common genetic disease called intervertebral disc disease was a mystery to veterinarians. This diseased caused many smaller dogs with short legs to have back pain and paralysis in their back legs making it difficult to walk. Researchers at the University of California have discovered the mutation to a disease called chondrodystropy which is a skeletal disorder. Dogs with this disease tend to have shorter legs and their intervertebral disc tend to be abnormal compared to others. This genetic mutation was very similar to the mutation in dogs who suffered from intervertebral disc disease. The geneticist, Danika Brannasch, has discovered an abnormality on chromosome 12 in dogs with intervertebral disc disease which was later linked to abnormal bone growth.
The research team were also able to look at the DNA in dogs with this genetic mutation and found that a particular region was implicated. Several other dogs were studied and found to have the same implicated DNA. It was discovered by Emily Brown that there was a FGR4 retrogene insertion in the gene that caused this disease. This is said to play an important role in development, dogs and humans. When the FGR4 is mutated, it leads to this intervertebral disc disease in dogs and can lead to dwarfism in humans.
This is an interesting discovery and can be used to help breeders and veterinarians manage the risk of this disease in dogs. The pain caused by this disease in smaller dogs can be better managed since veterinarians know the location of the mutation and can develop new methods to help these dogs with the pain they endure from this disease. Reducing the pain will allow these dogs to live a better life and maybe with the right therapy, gain some mobility in their back legs.
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