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Multi-species study reveals new insights into OCD
Canine OCD normally manifests as excessive licking, sucking, or tail chasing.

Researchers identify new genes associated with the disorder

A study by US scientists has revealed new insights into the genetics underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans and animals.

Researchers at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts, compared genetic information across multiple species that suffer from compulsive behaviour disorders and found four new genes with OCD-variants in humans.

The genes are thought to disrupt synapse development and throw neural pathways in the brain out of balance. The data is published in the journal Nature Communications.

OCD is a mental health disorder that affects some 80 million people worldwide. Obtained by inheritance, the biology of the disorder is still poorly understood.

To better understand the disorder, the team compiled a list of genetic associations from previous studies of human and animal OCD. The team used the data to refine a list of more than 600 genes and 80,000 related regulatory elements that might be involved in human OCD.

As part of the study, the researchers assessed genetic studies of canine OCD, which normally manifests as excessive licking, sucking, or tail chasing.

“We were seeking ways to take advantage of information from other species in order to inform and focus the study in humans,” explained study author Hyun Ji Noh. “Each additional species that we looked at gave us more information about possible factors in the brain that contribute to OCD.”

The four genes identified by the team - NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2 and REEP3 - all showed variants in either protein-coding or regulatory DNA significantly associated with human OCD.

Researchers say the data suggest new targets to pursue an improved biological and therapeutic understanding of OCD.

Image (C) Lil Shepherd.

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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.