Dog Genome May Shed Light on Human Disease


Mapping dog genome could shed light on human diseases. A complete sequence of dog genome not only helps explain dogs’ unique set of behaviors, traits, and diseases, it could also help identify human disorders. Understanding the relationship between canine genetics and diseases could eventually lead to the development of new treatments for diseases and illnesses in humans.

Dog genes and human diseases

Humans and dogs may be more alike than we think. For one, they share a number of diseases, such as cancer, epilepsy, and diabetes. Dog gene sequencing could be the primary tool in examining disease-causing genes in humans, since the same genes are responsible for identical diseases in humans.

In humans, diseases are caused by mutations in a number of different genes, which is almost impossible to detect. On the other hand, diseases in dogs are caused by a single gene mutation. This same mutated gene causes the same disease in humans.

The study

Genomic researchers were able to map out the genes of Shadow, a standard poodle, although it was only 80% complete. In 2006, scientists were able to completely sequence out a boxer genome. According to molecular biologist Ewen Kirkness of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland, "The boxer genome will help us get at the genes responsible for diseases and traits in dogs."

Molecular biologists tracked short DNA stretches that randomly occur, known as short interspersed elements (SINEs), which usually turn up, down, or even off the expression of these genes. The researchers discovered that the dog population has about 20,000 differences. SINEs can function as signposts for certain genes associated with a trait or disease.

Almost every dog gene corresponds to a similar human gene. Specific dog breeds are predisposed, for example, to cancer, cardiovascular disease, deafness, blindness, and other common diseases and disorders.

The mapping of the dog gene is a big leap forward for research in fields like veterinary medicine. This work can be extended to the human gene, which could help scientists better understand and develop treatments for human diseases and illnesses.


Overall, having a sequenced dog genome helps in treating and eliminating not only dog diseases, but also human diseases and illnesses. Kirkness says, "Testing can be done by breeders to limit the passage of these mutations into future generations." Also, studying the mutations in dog and human genes allows genetic engineers to look at possible ways correct the errors in genetic coding that cause specific diseases or illnesses.


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