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Further funding for canine genetic research project

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has granted a further £25,000 to ‘Give a Dog a Genome’, the pioneering initiative from the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

The project hopes to improve canine health by applying the latest genome sequencing technology to canine genetics research.

Give a Dog a Genome aims to analyse the whole genome (2.4 billion letters of DNA) of dogs of different breeds to build up a canine genome bank as a permanent resource to aid future genetics research studies.

The project was launched at the beginning of 2016 with a grant of £50,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

This was enough funding to sequence 25 genomes, or half the funding required to sequence the genomes of 50 different dogs.

The AHT then used a crowdfunding technique to double the funding by asking breed communities to donate £1,000 to secure their breed one of the 50 places available on the project, helping to create the UK’s largest canine genome bank.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT, said: “To be able to secure this additional funding is very exciting and means we’re able to both meet the demand from breed communities for this type of research, but also the more genomes we can sequence and learn from now, the more powerful these data are going to be. And that’s good news for all breeds of dog.

“The main aim of this research is to gain a much better understanding of which DNA changes are neutral and those which are likely to have a negative effect on dog health, by using whole genome sequencing technology to look very closely at all 2.4 billion letters of DNA in a dog’s genome.

“We believe this will have profound effects on our ability to identify mutations which cause inherited diseases in purebred dogs, and the rate at which we can develop new DNA tests as tools for breeders in the future.

“We’re really grateful to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for continuing to support this project. The 75 places have already been filled for 2016 as so many breeds were keen to be included in this project when it was first launched.

“However, we have started a waiting list for those breeds who may want to be involved in Give a Dog a Genome next year if we’re able to run a ‘phase two’ of the project.”

For more information visit www.aht.org.uk/gdg.

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