Discovery of mutated gene in dogs could help treat blindness

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A Finnish-North of scientists at State University and has found a MERTK gene defect responsible for a recently identified form of in Swedish vallhund . This discovery opens the door to the development of therapies for diseases that both in dogs and humans. The research findings were published in the paper A Novel Canine Retinopathy Associated with MERTK in the journal PLoS ONE in December.

Inherited retinal diseases are among the leading causes of incurable blindness in humans as well as in dogs, where most of these conditions are classified as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Because of the similarities in ocular anatomy, canine models contribute significantly to the understanding of retinal disease mechanisms and the development of new therapies for human patients. The gene identified as a cause of PRA in the Swedish vallhund is associated with a form of human retinitis pigmentosa (RP), one of the most common incurable blindness worldwide.

This is the third paper published in PLoS ONE by the collaborating research teams of Dr. András Komáromy at , and Professor Hannes Lohi and Dr. Saija Ahonen at the University of Helsinki. The teams' three papers, each on Nordic dogs (Swedish Vallhund and Norwegian Elkhound) and each addressing blinding ocular diseases affecting both dogs and people, identified genes causing retinal disease and glaucoma, which may lead to for dogs and humans.

“The work to characterize these diseases in two Nordic dog breeds drew from well-established international collaborations between clinicians, geneticists, and dog breeders. This type of longstanding, multi-disciplinary collaboration certainly strengthens a team's response to the challenges of unraveling complex problems and creating innovative solutions,” explains professor Lohi. All three papers were also part of Dr Ahonen's PhD thesis published recently (

Ten years, seven countries, and three continents

The identification of MERTK gene as a cause of Swedish Vallhund PRA is the result of a decade-long project that first described the newly emerged disease in September 2014 in A Novel Form of in Swedish Vallhund Dogs, PLoS ONE 9(9): e106610.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Swedish and Finnish eye panelists recognized the emergence of a new retinal disease in Swedish vallhund dogs. The retinal abnormalities were different from any known forms of canine inherited retinopathy.

In 2004, Komáromy, then at the University of Pennsylvania, received a telephone call from a breeder in Midwest about a new retinal disease. “I drove from Philadelphia to to examine the affected dogs, and began visiting dog shows and other venues around North America and Scandinavia to examine other Swedish vallhund dogs. It is wonderful to see that these trips helped us to later get this far

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    • Paula the Gourmet
    • January 2, 2015
    17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Safe, easy to chew, tasty (for dogs), December 18, 2010
    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Zuke’s Jerky Naturals Dog Treats, Tender Lamb Recipe, 6-Ounce (Misc.)
    I have a geriatric mini poodle. He can’t chew biscuits or rawhide textures,but these treats are soft enough and still provide some workout for his gums and remaining teeth.
    I appreciate the fact that the ingredients are domestic and it is manufactured in the US.


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    • Bobby "Bobby"
    • January 2, 2015
    29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The price is right, April 27, 2011
    Bobby “Bobby” (Anchorage, AK) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Zuke’s Jerky Naturals Dog Treats, Tender Lamb Recipe, 6-Ounce (Misc.)
    We have a little Maltese that we spoil to no end. These treats are the perfect size for him and he loves them.

    He can be a little picky. Among his daily treats are Greenies and since we found these on Amazon, Zuke’s Jerky Naturals. I will say that we tried two different kinds. Along with these, we tried the Wellness WellBites Chicken and Venison Recipe Dog Treats, 8-Ounce Pouch.

    The Zuke’s are really potent. When you open the bag, you catch a big whiff of how strong they are. They’re probably real flavorful because of it (I didn’t try one). The Wellness treats seem a little dryer. While our little guy likes both of the treats, the Zuke’s win over the Wellness. Plus they’re cheaper so that’s even better. He can’t get enough of them.

    We also tried the Zuke’s Z-Ridge Mini – Carrot Fresh Breath Dental Chew Bones, 15 Count Pouch made by Zuke’s. He doesn’t like those as much as the Greenies.

    I would say that this product is one of the best we found for our dog. Plus we were able to take advantage of the free super saver shipping as well. These are highly recommended.

    [Edit: August 14, 2011]

    He still loves them!

    We’ve had to start giving our little guy Remedel for a little shoulder injury he had. These Zukes make it real easy to give him the pill. Since they’re moist, we just put the pill inside and press it all around the pill. That way he doesn’t even know he’s taking it. Trying to give him pills with the Wellness treats doesn’t work so well since they’re dryer.

    [Edit: September 29, 2012]

    Anyone else notice that they seem different?? The last couple packs we bought were dryer and brittle. They also weren’t as potent as the other ones were. He doesn’t seem to like them as much any more. I don’t know if the bags we bought were partially opened so they dried out by the time the were delivered or if their recipe changed. I’ll buy some more and see how they turn out. A little disappointed…


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    • Short Dogg
    • January 2, 2015

    it was cute in all but it wasn’t funny

    • Lee Tuaans
    • January 2, 2015

    i like it

    • Jo Coombs Merchant
    • January 2, 2015

    2 is cute

    • JZ.Movies. Julio zack
    • January 2, 2015

    funny lol

    • Forever Fabulous Girls
    • January 2, 2015


    • Hot Movies
    • January 2, 2015

    cute dog :D

    • Sandra Gonzalez
    • January 2, 2015

    Wow your video is awsome and super cute!!!(subscribing)

    • Issabelle Fernandez
    • January 2, 2015

    It was not funny but I’m still happy because the dogs and cats are cute

    • xpert_chief
    • January 2, 2015

    Dat was funny

    • Chloe Lover
    • January 2, 2015

    1st one soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute

    • Videos vui
    • January 2, 2015

    dễ thương vãi bà con ạ :D

    • Bre Moore
    • January 2, 2015

    not funny

    • amy smith
    • January 2, 2015

    The cats and dogs are cute

    • XxFozenStormxX AJ
    • January 2, 2015

    I loved the first one the cute little puppies looked like fuzzballs

    • Patrick DiCarlo
    • January 2, 2015

    love this video so cute!

    • Joel Caplan
    • January 2, 2015

    Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute

    • Carrie Justus
    • January 2, 2015

    I didn’t laugh but I never do I when I was born I didn’t cry I was grumpy

    • colby hodge
    • January 2, 2015

    Those dogs looked like fuzzy fur balls

    • Aga Machoczek
    • January 2, 2015

    I♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ puppys and kittens:)

    • Relax Channel
    • January 2, 2015

    funny cats and dogs

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