A recent email announcing that Dr. Yuri Melekhovets, Laboratory Director of HealthGene Corp., Toronto, Canada, has located the gene responsible for producing inherited epilepsy in canines is making massive rounds on the internet.
After consulting with colleagues at the AKC Canine Health Foundation as well as established researchers known for their work on canine epilepsy at the University of Missouri, it is likely that the announcement is being taken quite out of context.
Breeders wishing to participate in further research being done at HealthGene may certainly do so, however, the research should not be confused with any current studies on canine epilepsy currently being funded and supported by the AKC Canine Health Foundation at UC Davis, or the Universities of Missouri and Minnesota.
The Small Animal Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the University of Missouri provided the following information: "It is HIGHLY unlikely that there is one epilepsy gene for all dogs. In humans and in laboratory mice, over 30 mutations causing different (and rare) types of epilepsy have been identified. Most likely, there will be
many epilepsy genes in dogs as well. Closely related dog breeds with a common founding mutation may well have the same type of epilepsy, but it's also quite likely that in some breeds we may ultimately find more than one type of epilepsy, with different mutations.
Unfortunately, things are not as simple as finding one mutation and it's all solved!
Over a year ago, researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto identified a mutation in a gene that they believe causes a very rare disease known as "Laflora's Epilepsy" in a small family of miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds. This is a storage disease that includes myoclonic (muscle) seizures as a major symptom of a more
complex disease. This seizure type is not seen in most other breeds, and only very rarely in Dachshunds. Apparently, HealthGene is a company being used by this research team, and the referenced HealthGene discovery is more than likely the discovery related to Laflora's Epilepsy in Dachshunds.
We have not been able to find anything on canine epilepsy published by Dr Melekhovets in the scientific literature, and those who have been actively researching canine epilepsy for the past 5-10 years are not aware of this individual as a researcher. It would be wonderful if canine epilepsy were solved, but the reality is that the discovery made in Toronto probably does not apply to the vast majority of dogs who experience seizures. The tools available to us, and the information available as a result of the completion of the Canine Genome Project a few months ago make it much more likely that some of the epilepsies in dogs will soon be mapped. To map epilepsy,
or any trait, researchers need DNA from affected individuals, and their normal close relatives (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc).
The researchers of the Canine Epilepsy Consortium at the Universities of Missouri and Minnesota have an established track record of working towards answers for breeders and owners in many breeds, and encourage continued participation by owners of affected dogs and their normal relatives to help us in the search.
Information on this ongoing research, and the forms and instructions for participating can be found on the Canine Epilepsy Network located at www.canine-epilepsy.net."
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
UPDATED MARCH 2006:
Dr. Yuri F. Melekhovets,
Laboratory Director of HealthGene Corp
Announcement that his group has located the gene responsible for producing inherited epilepsy in canines.
HealthGene Corporation is the largest private veterinary DNA diagnostic and research laboratory in Canada.
DNA-based testing for animal infectious and genetic diseases.
HealthGene now is studying the various mutations that produce different forms of epilepsy in different breeds.
Dr. Melekhovets requests that owners of dogs with epilepsy submit blood samples to further that research.
Samples should come from dogs which have been medically diagnosed with epilepsy or have had
symptoms of epilepsy for at least two years.
Two vials of blood samples per dog should be sent in lavender topped tubes, together with a pedigree and brief health history (whether it has seizures, when they started, whether they are mild or severe, and what type of diagnostics have been performed).
Send the samples by FedEx, using HealthGene's account number (#238368138), using FedEx's International Air Waybill with the following information for
a) Commodity description: "Canine Blood Samples for DNA Testing";
b) Total Declared Value for Customs is $1.00;
c) international first; and
d) 3 copies commercial invoice.
Send the vials to this address:
2175 Keele Street,
Ontario M6M 3Z4 Canada.
Dr. Melekhovets may be contacted at:
email: dr.melekhovets @ healthgene.com (without the spaces)