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Scientists and the Kennel Club work together for healthier dogs and people

11 July 2005

It is well known that certain breeds of dog are more susceptible than others to particular diseases or conditions. Scientists at Imperial College London, working with the Kennel Club, are moving closer to understanding the underlying genetic predisposition to diseases – and because the canine genome is very similar to the human genome the research could lead to healthier humans as well as healthier dogs.

The scientists, part funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) through the LINK Applied Genomics Programme, are using data from the extensive breed records of the UK Kennel Club, the country’s premier register of purebred dogs for over a century. The records and swab samples from dogs’ mouths will be used to identify the differences and similarities of the DNA sequences in diseased and healthy dogs. The pedigree records from the Kennel Club will be used to improve the accuracy of the analyses on the genetic data. The results form this research will help identify the genetic variation underlying inborn diseases in dogs and could be a starting point for a better understanding of genetic diseases in humans.

Professor David Balding, leader of the research team at Imperial College, said, “If we can understand these important genes we will be able to design better nutrition and veterinary drugs for dogs. Breeders will also have a much more accurate way of avoiding crosses that could increase the likelihood of disease.”

Professor Julia Goodfellow, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said, “ Research like this is not only important to improve the health, welfare and veterinary care of dogs but it may also provide valuable insights into human diseases.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

This research features in the July 2005 issue of Business, the quarterly magazine of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The project partners are Imperial College London ( http://www.ic.ac.uk) , the Kennel Club and Masterfoods. The work at Imperial College involves population genetic modelling plus analysis of the genotype data. Masterfoods, at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition is carrying out most the sample collection and the genotyping.

The Applied Genomics LINK Programme involved researchers from 17 universities and research institutions collaborating with 23 industrial partners, 21 of which were SMEs who had not been involved in such a programme before. The programme has attracted over £14M of industrial funding in addition to the matched funding from the sponsors and has lead to significant industrial developments including novel targets, tools and equipment for drug discovery, as well as valuable intellectual property.

This LINK programme was launched in July 2000, following the publication of the first draft of the human genome sequence and multiple bacterial genomes, to drive forward industry and academic collaboration to accelerate the application of genomics in the areas of medicine and healthcare. It is sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) ( http://www.mrc.ac.uk)

LINK Collaborative Research is a Government-wide mechanism for promoting partnership in pre-competitive research between UK industry and universities and other research base organisations. It aims to stimulate innovation, wealth creation and improve the quality of life. The main goal of the LINK programme in Applied Genomics is to support the development of platform technologies that will enable UK healthcare companies to harness and exploit the output of genome sequencing projects and developments in genomics. The programme responds to one of the major challenges identified by the Foresight Healthcare Panel - the need to accelerate the takeup of genomic knowledge by industry to boost UK competitiveness and enhance health care delivery. This programme has encouraged the exchange of knowledge into industry from the research base and given the research base access to the latest techniques developed by industry to optimise the exploitation of genomics.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

About The Kennel Club

The primary objective of the Kennel Club is to promote, in every way, the general improvement of dogs.

Founded in 1873 the Kennel Club achieves its aim through the classification and registration of dogs and associated societies, the licensing of over 5,000 shows, trials and competitions annually and the promotion of responsible dog ownership.

The Kennel Club frames and enforces Rules and Regulations, publishes the Kennel Gazette, Breed Standards, operates the Young Kennel Club, the Good Citizen Dog Scheme and the Companion Dog Club. Through its Charitable Trust, the Kennel Club funds research projects and encourages veterinary development. Europe's definitive canine library is situated at the Kennel Club headquarters in Mayfair.

Through its wholly owned subsidiary - Kennel Club Services Limited, the Club's commercial activities are managed and developed to achieve funding for projects such as the Kennel Club's responsible dog ownership campaigns and donations to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk

External contact

Professor David Balding, Imperial College London

tel: 020 7594 3309

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382