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Study reveals link between immune system genes and diabetes in certain dog breeds
This is the first study to examine the link between MHC genes and canine diabetes in individual breeds.

Important findings published as part of Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

A new study which examines associations between immune system genes and canine diabetes mellitus in high-risk breeds could help improve diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in dogs.

Diabetes mellitus affects approximately one in 300 dogs across the UK, and is much more common in certain breeds than others. Previous studies have implicated a group of immune system genes, or major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, in canine diabetes mellitus, but this study is the first to examine this association in individual pedigree dog breeds.

The study – published in Canine Medicine and Genetics – was conducted by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford.

The team studied data from 646 diabetic dogs and 912 breed-matched non-diabetic controls, across 12 high-risk breeds including cocker spaniels, border terriers, Labrador retrievers and Tibetan terriers.

The findings confirmed that particular MHC genes are associated with canine diabetes in certain breeds of dogs, indicating the need for further research into the role of the immune system in the development of canine diabetes, as well as additional genetic studies in single breeds.

According to the study, future research will help identify causal variants and mechanisms, which could improve the diagnosis and management of affected dogs.

Alice Denyer, PhD student at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “I am pleased to have been part of this important research, particularly given that November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month.

“It is really interesting to see the variation that we found among the breeds studied, supporting the theory that canine diabetes mellitus is heterogeneous among breeds. Human diabetes mellitus is known to be highly heterogenous, but we do not know currently know how similar canine diabetes mellitus is to the human disease.

“Undoubtedly there is much more to uncover in this area, and I look forward to working further on this important issue which affects so many dogs in the UK.”

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MSD Animal Health announces three new research bursaries

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 MSD Animal Health has announced three new research bursaries for veterinary surgeons in the areas of swine, poultry and aquaculture. The bursaries, worth up to £4,000, add to MSD's existing bursaries in ruminant and companion animal research.

Projects are expected to be completed within one to two years, and the proposals will be judged by university academics to ensure that assessment remains independent. Full project design and application guidelines, including the specific disease/subject areas, can be found on MSD Animal Health's website

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Taking place on Wednesday 18 November, the virtual event will take the form of a series of pre-recorded webinars and a 'Slido' Q&A session. Links to the webinars and full instructions on how to use Slido will be available on on 18 November. To join the mailing list for the event, email