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Novel gene explains fatal ARDS in Dalmatians
Breeders have learned to avoid the risk lines but it is challenging to eradicate recessive disorders such as ARDS without genetic testing, as the carriers are not affected by the disease.
Discovery could help to diagnose and treat the syndrome

Scientists have discovered a novel gene associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in Dalmatians. The research could help to diagnose and eradicate the disease in dogs, as well as improving understanding of respiratory disease in humans.

ARDS has an early onset, with puppies and young dogs experiencing difficulty breathing, leading to rapid death. It has been known to affect the breed for some time, although the frequency of carriers is said to be low. Breeders have learned to avoid the risk lines but it is challenging to eradicate recessive disorders such as ARDS without genetic testing, as the carriers are not affected by the disease.

Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki explained to Science Daily: “There are many causes for lethal acute respiratory distress. In humans, the underlying cause is often pneumonia, inflammation or pulmonary fibrosis.

“In Dalmatians, the cause is a genetic lung tissue disorder. Our study indicates that the disorder results from a defect in an anilin protein which binds to actin, the supporting microfilaments in the cell.”

Anilin is important for cell division and growth. According to Dr Marjo Hytönen, the lung injury in affected dogs appears to be linked to an abnormal regeneration capacity of the bronchiolar epithelium. “The ANLN gene discovery is in line with this manifestation of the disease,” Dr Hytönen explained.

Researchers examined material previously collected at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, as well as canine biobank samples. They tested 180 Dalmatians and 30 pointers for the mutation association with ARDS, finding less than two per cent of the Dalmatians had it, while none of the pointers did.

Some of the affected dogs only had one kidney, while others had hydrocephalus, which suggests ANLN has “broader significance for the development of the epithelium in different organs,” Dr Hytönen added.

Veterinary pathologist Pernilla Syrjä said: “This gene discovery provides new insights into the mechanisms of lung injuries. Typically, lung injuries in the affected Dalmatians are associated with disorders in the cellular regeneration and intercellular junctions.

“The lack of anillin, the actin-binding protein, can perfectly explain the changes which we see on the cellular level. Due to the malformed epithelial structure, inhaled air is trapped in the alveolar level, over-extending the alveolar walls.”

The genetic test will be made available via the MyDogDNA test,

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Genetics

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Campaign highlights ‘devastating impact’ of smoking around pets

News Story 1
 Leading vet charity PDSA has launched a campaign highlighting the ‘devastating impact’ that smoking can have on pets. The launch coincides with National No Smoking Day (14 March 2018) and aims to raise awareness of the risks of passive smoking and how to keep pets safe.

“Recent studies highlight that this is a really serious issue, and we want pet owners to know that they can make a real difference by simply choosing to smoke outdoors away from their pets,” said PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “We want pet owners to realise that, if they smoke, their pets smoke too.”  

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AWF named charity of the year

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has been chosen as charity of the year by the Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA). AWF is a vet-led charity, supported by the BVA, which aims to improve animal welfare though research funding, supporting veterinary education, providing pet care advice and encouraging debate on welfare issues.

VMA has pledged a range of support, including raising awareness and funds at their awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 16 March, as well as offering marketing support through VMA marketing workshops.