Science

Kennel Club and AHT secure canine genetics data

The Kennel Club and Animal Health Trust (AHT) have confirmed that scientific data and biological material, including more than 40,000 DNA samples, that was stored at the AHT headquarters have now been secured and moved to Cambridge University.

News of the move comes after the AHT closed its doors earlier this month. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has funded the Genetics Centre, which was previously based in the AHT headquarters, since 2009. 

Led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, the Centre aimed to develop simple mouth swab screening tests to determine affected and carrier dogs. The joint Kennel Club and AHT team examined the impact on the health and welfare of dogs, as well as on the support of breeders and access to data and samples.

Bill King, chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “The Kennel Club and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust have long supported and worked together with the AHT to improve dog health, so it is a very positive development that the Kennel Club’s considerable investment in this area has been saved in spite of a few weeks of uncertainty. 

“Our thanks go to Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge Vet School, for all his help and assistance in securing the safekeeping of the samples. Future developments will be announced in due course.”

Dr Cathryn Mellersh said: “The Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT was founded to accelerate research into inherited canine disease. 

“Since the Genetics Centre was founded in 2009, by collaborating closely with dog breeders and veterinary surgeons we have developed DNA tests for 22 different inherited diseases which benefit around 50 different breeds of dog.”

She added: “We know that breeders make good use of DNA tests to reduce the frequency of these mutations and thus improve the genetic health of countless dogs. 

“There is no reason why this ethos should change now that the information is stored in Cambridge and the Kennel Club Genetics Centre staff are relieved and grateful that all this information and resources have been saved.”

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