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WFFS mutation in Thoroughbreds investigated
Mutation is only present at a very low frequency

Mutation is not genetic risk factor and only present at very low frequency

Researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have published the results of a study that investigated the frequency of the warmblood fragile foal syndrome (WFFS) mutation in Thoroughbreds.

The study demonstrated that this mutation is not a genetic risk factor for catastrophic breakdown and is only present at a very low frequency in this breed.

Warmblood fragile foal syndrome is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion, meaning that a horse needs to have two copies of the mutation to be affected. WFFS is a fatal genetic defect of connective tissue characterised by hyper-extensible, abnormally thin, fragile skin and mucous membranes.

More than 700 Thoroughbreds were tested for the WFFS mutation, including 22 catastrophic breakdown fatalities. The allele frequency among all samples was 1.2 per cent and the carrier rate (or horses with one copy) was 2.4 per cent. None of the horses in the study had two copies of the mutation and only one of the 22 catastrophic breakdown cases carried the WFFS allele.

Since the allele was found to be present in the Thoroughbred population – albeit at a low frequency – genetic testing could eliminate the possibility of breeding two carriers with the potential of producing an affected offspring.

The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory offers a WFFS genetic test and recommends testing for all warmblood breeds.

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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

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SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."