Davies Neurology team joins forces with kennel club genetics centre to fight canine idiopathic epilepsy

Davies Veterinary Specialists

HR, Neurology, Pet Owners, Research, Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Professionals

24th January 2022

One of the UK’s leading veterinary groups has partnered with scientists in a bid to tackle the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs.

Davies Veterinary Specialists Neurology team and Linnaeus, which is part of Mars Veterinary Health, is working with scientists at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the University of Cambridge in the fight against canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE).

Luisa De Risio, clinical research and excellence director at Linnaeus, and a co-investigator in this study is collaborating with neurology specialists and primary care veterinarians in Linnaeus practices, including Davies, to recruit cases with a robust diagnosis.

Researchers from the Kennel Club Genetics Centre will conduct genetic analysis of these dogs as part of a large-scale study that aims to identify DNA variants that are involved in increasing a dog’s susceptibility to IE.

IE is the most common chronic neurological disease found in dogs, with an estimated prevalence of 0.6 to 0.75 per cent in the general canine population. However, its prevalence can vary widely across breeds.

Dogs with IE are diagnosed at a young age and the disorder is often lifelong, with remission rarely achieved.

IE is a complex brain disease with a broad range of impacts on the quality of life of affected dogs, including recurrent epileptic seizures and behavioural and cognitive co-morbidities. It can also lead to a shortened lifespan, and there is growing evidence of the impact on the owner’s wellbeing of caring for a dog with epilepsy.

Luisa said: “Canine idiopathic epilepsy is a disease that is common in many breeds of dog and can significantly impact the quality of life of both affected dogs and their owners. However, there is limited knowledge concerning the role of genetic factors in susceptibility to the disease in most breeds.

“The overarching aim of this large-scale collaborative study is to identify the genetic factors contributing to the risk of developing idiopathic epilepsy as this could help develop tools to lower the incidence of the condition in future generations.

“The study will initially focus on the Border Collie and Italian Spinone, as they can suffer from a particularly severe and life-limiting form of epilepsy, before expanding the study to other breeds in the future.

“Our clients wishing to be involved in this exciting study will be provided with all the relevant information. If they wish to participate, they can inform their vet and will also liaise with the researchers at Cambridge.”

Dr Sally Ricketts, the geneticist leading the study at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said: “We are very excited about this collaboration, which will facilitate our sample collections to enable the study of this debilitating disease.

“As IE is a complex disease in the breeds we are studying, large numbers of samples from both affected and unaffected dogs are crucial to help tease apart the genetics of the condition.”

For more information on the study, visit www.canine-genetics.org.uk/research/epilepsy.

For more information on Linnaeus, visit www.linnaeusgroup.co.uk or search for Linnaeus on social media.

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