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This gene is associated with Lafora's disease, a familial progressive form of epilepsy. Rare bassets have been diagnosed with Lafora's disease, and the breed is mentioned in the press release.

Researchers have discovered a gene that may be responsible for a rare form of epilepsy in dogs.

While numerous genes associated with human epilepsy have already been found, this is the first gene associated with canine epilepsy to be discovered.

\"Five to 10 percent of dogs have epilepsy compared to about 1 percent of humans,\" said one of the study's authors, Dr. Berge Minassian, a neurologist and scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

\"We've found the first dog epilepsy gene and may have explained part of the reason for the high numbers of epilepsy in dogs,\" he said.

Results of the study appear in the Jan. 7 issue of the journal Science.
Now that the gene has been isolated, Minassian and his colleagues are working on developing a commercially available test to identify the gene so dog breeders can test their dogs to see if they carry the gene. With controlled breeding practices, it could be possible to eliminate this form of canine epilepsy from purebred dogs, said Minassian.
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[ January 07, 2005, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: Betsy Iole ]
 

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The above page has been removed, so here's a more recent link that describes a second discovery.

Mining the Canine Genome

Berge Minassian, MD, and other scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, turned to the dog in their hunt for genes that cause Lafora disease in humans. With Lafora, seizures begin in the teenage years and increase in frequency until  they cause death, usually within five years after the onset of the first symptoms.
The canine genome also recently proved valuable in identifying a gene that causes neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis in humans,  otherwise known as Batten's disease. Over time, children with this disease suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, and  progressive loss of sight and motor skills. The disease is usually fatal in the late teens or 20s. In the 1950s, a Norwegian  veterinarian identified an NCL-like disease in a group of related English Setters...This past February, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Indiana University-Indianapolis announced in the  journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications that they had identified the gene involved in this type of epilepsy.
The two epilepsy genes are only the most recent success stories involving the canine genome. Scientists have identified genes  for conditions including vision disorders, heritable kidney cancer, narcolepsy, severe combined immunodeficiency (often called  bubble boy disease), cystinuria, and bleeding disorders...

...almost half of the roughly 30 genes identified for diseases in dogs are for vision disorders. Scientists  have even successfully used gene therapy to cure two of them, one being Leber congenital amaurosis. In humans, this condition  causes vision loss starting in infancy. \"We treated dogs, restored vision, and that (treatment) will be used to treat human  patients, if that continues to be successful,\" says Dr. Aguirre, who was involved in the study. He anticipates that phase  I clinical trials for humans could begin at the end of 2005 or early 2006.
 
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