DNA test for glaucoma to be launched at Crufts

A DNA test for primary open angle glaucoma in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is to be launched at Crufts.

Glaucoma is a painful and blinding disease associated with high pressure in the eye due to a build-up of fluid, and after several years of work using DNA samples provided by many supportive owners and breeders, the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) has identified the mutation which causes POAG in the PBGV, the only breed in the UK certified currently under the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheep Dog Society eye scheme for the condition.

It is hoped that this will lead to it being eradicated from the PBGV population.

The DNA test has since been developed and will have a ‘limited availability’ £6 off Crufts discount voucher. Those who would like one shes should visit the AHT stand in hall 3 stand 55. It can be ordered from the AHT DNA Testing Service for £48.

Primary glaucoma is an inherited condition and is sub-divided into two types: open and closed angle glaucoma. In both forms, glaucoma results from reduced drainage of fluid within the eye, causing a build-up of pressure which, in turn, leads to pain and blindness. For closed angle glaucoma a screening technique called gonioscopy can identify dogs at risk.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of the Genetics Centre, said: "We’re incredibly pleased to be able to offer this new test. A lot of hard work went into collecting the samples and identifying the mutation, none of which would have been possible without the continued support of the Basset Griffon Vendéen Club (BGVC).

"As there is no clinical test available to screen these dogs for POAG before the onset of the disease, it has been challenging for breeders to control. Now, any PBGV can have the non-invasive DNA test, collected via a simple cheek swab, giving the owner peace of mind about both the dog’s eye health and if it is a carrier of the genetic mutation.

"Hopefully, with responsible DNA testing and breeding we will be able to eradicate this painful and blinding condition from the PBGV population.

"This is the first DNA test we’ve launched for a form of canine glaucoma and it is testament to our highly skilled geneticists and our ability to work closely and effectively with breeders to collect representative samples to aid our research. Our next challenge is to investigate the genetics behind primary closed angle glaucoma which affects a greater number of breeds.”

This test could not have been developed without samples from healthy and affected dogs, Dr Mellersh emphasised. Gavin Robertson, pictured here, owner of Crufts 2013 best in show winner, the PBGV Ch Soletrader Peek A Boo, and chairman of the BGVC, said: "Through years of hard work, hundreds of eye tests and the submission of DNA the club is absolutely delighted that Dr Mellersh and her team at the Animal Health Trust have identified and carried out validation experiments on the DNA responsible for POAG in the PBGV.

"Many will recall back in the early days the eye pressure tests which were undertaken at the Royal Veterinary College, the fundraising for a tonograph machine and the ongoing eye testing sessions and samples sent to the AHT of affected and unaffected PBGVs to aid the research.

"None of this would have been possible without the unstinting work of Vivien Phillips, the club’s health officer for eyes, Prof Peter Bedford and Dr Mellersh and her team.With this breakthrough it is hoped that, with careful and responsible breeding, owners and breeders can start the process of eradicating this condition in this wonderful breed. As chairman of the club we will do all we can to encourage all PBGV to be tested in the UK and overseas.”

KC secretary Caroline Kisko said: "The development of the test is a prime example of the fantastic work being carried out by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, and we’re thrilled that owners and breeders of PBGVs will be able to utilise this to help protect the health of this charming breed.

"We commend all the hard work that went in to making this possible and are excited that this breakthrough means there is a real possibility of this condition being eliminated from the breed in the future.”

For more information call: 01442 851225 or email: vphillips@btinternet.com

Top of Page

Back Home