The VHNK is happy to report on some important steps forward in the research around polymyositis.
A mutation has been found which is the cause off the illness. This means heterozygote and homozygote animals can be identified. However, this mutation does not cause all homozygote animals to become affected by the illness. As a result, the mutation does not differentiate between sick or healthy homozygote animals. Therefore, we cannot yet offer a DNA test that can specifically mark animals affected by the illness.
At present the laboratory of Utrecht University (UU) is engaged with genotyping all breeding-animals. When completed, this will give the necessary information to come to a constructive method to avoid breeding Polymyositis cases. As soon as the Fit2Breed app is ready for use, a risk assessment will be available in the app.
This research was supported by donations of Kooikerhondje clubs, breeders and individuals from all over the kooikerhondje-world. This project does not end with finding the mutation and the development of a risk assessment. Research will continue to find why animals do, or do not develop polymyositis. Therefore, it is important we continue to collect blood-samples of all breeding animals.
We are very glad about the collaboration with the University of Utrecht and will continue this into the future.
Fit2Breed App, estimated release 2020
We all have the purpose to breed dogs as healthy as possible. The breed clubs also have the purpose of maintaining the breed as a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. To breed healthy dogs in a responsible and sustainable way, it is not only important to look at the individual combinations, but to consider the entire population.
A lot of data is already being collected, for example from clinical screenings for orthopedic disorders (Patella luxation) and eye disorders and the results of monogenetic DNA tests such as vWD and ENM. This data is often used on an individual basis to make male-female combinations and breeders use ZooEasy and the club register to look back on a number of generations of what occurs in their lines.
It would be a pity if breeders would not consider the clinical data when planning a mating.
At present, a source of concern for breeders is primarily polymyositis. We now know about this disease that at least one genetic factor is responsible for the occurrence, plus strong environmental factors or perhaps a second gene. In such a case you can no longer work with concepts such as “carrier” and “affected”, but we must proceed with a risk assessment for the proposed combination.
With the Fit2Breed project we also get SNP markers for the Kooikerhondje. These are small variations in the DNA that have many different applications. With these markers new DNA tests can be developed, but also parental determination, measuring genetic variation in an individual dog and combining parent animals (“genetic matchmaking”) are possible. The Expertise Centre Genetics of Companion Animals (ECGG) is currently working hard on developing the Fit2Breed software module. In addition to the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, the Labrador Retriever (just in the Netherlands) is one of the two breeds for which Fit2Breed will be used first. With the Fit2Breed software it is possible to analyze all important data (disease data, results of screening examinations, risk estimates and breeding value estimates, results of monogenetic DNA tests and SNP data for genetic variety) and thus arrive at a scientifically supported breeding advice. For the breeder this means that he can fill in his female in the module, after which he gets a list of all males, sorted by suitability. It is also possible to enter a desired combination of a male and a female, whereby it is then indicated whether or not this combination is suitable. For the system to run as well as possible, it is very important that as much data as possible is entered into the system.
The Kooikerhondje, with all the data already collected and entered in the ZooEasy database, is very suitable for co-developing this software. Considering the overwhelming amount of known data for the kooikerhondje, a breeding program that uses only the pedigree data and calculates the mean kinship of animals, does not seem a suitable choice.