The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation (KBTF) is pleased to announce that it has contributed funds to an important research study on autoimmune diseases in dogs. Dr. Wayne Potts (University of Utah), Dr. Brad Fenwick (Virginia Tech., formerly of Kansas State University), and Dr. William D. Fortney (Kansas State University) will be collaborating on a study seeking the cause of diabetes, immune-mediated thyroiditis, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. The Canine Health Foundation (CHF) has approved funding for this study and KBTF is contributing $2,500 over 2 years from its Donor Advised Fund for Kerry Blue Terriers. KBTF Health & Genetics Director Carol Postley has made a generous contribution to meet the amount being donated.
The CHF will pool the Foundation's contribution with funds collected from other breeds and CHF will match KBTF's donation one to one (a total contribution of $5,000).
The study is titled "Histocompatibility alleles conferring susceptibility to canine diabetes, immune-mediated thyroiditis and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia". In their study summary, the investigators note that "in humans many autoimmune diseases occur only in individuals expressing one of the few predisposing histocompatibility genes." Histocompatibility genes have been found in all mammal species examined so far, including dogs. By collecting DNA from dogs afflicted with each of these diseases and sequencing the DNA, the investigators hope to discover if there are also specific gene forms (alleles) in dogs that are associated with the diseases. The discovery of disease related gene forms will allow the development of DNA tests to identify dogs predisposed to these diseases. In turn this will reduce the incidence of the diseases by reducing the breeding of the predisposed dogs.
Results from the 2004 Health Survey carried out by KBTF did not identify any Kerries with diabetes; however, 4.5% of all Kerries entered in the survey were hypothyroid (it is unknown how many cases were due to thyroiditis because of lack of information about the testing protocol) and 1.1% suffered (frequently fatally) from autoimmune hemolytic anemia. A successful outcome from this research should improve the health of the Kerry breed.
KBTF thanks all who have generously donated to its health and genetics fund.