Scientists at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute are planning to create the first labrador genome through aptly titled Labradome project. The focus is to determine the environmental roots of disease – viruses, bacteria, poor food or poor exercise regimes in pedigree dogs which might further pave the way for further research into other pedigree animals.
The Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep was birthed, is also the launchpad for Dogslife, an epidemiological research project collecting information about the health of Labrador Retrievers in UK which is recording information about their lives in extraordinary detail.
“We picked the labrador for the simple reason that it is the most common pedigree dog in the UK,” explains Roslin’s director, Professor David Hume. “However, the lessons learned from it will go far beyond this breed or indeed for dogs in general. The key point is that dogs like the labrador retriever are now getting human-like conditions because – as veterinary care and nutrition improves – they are living to ripe old ages when they start to succumb to heart disease, arthritis and cognitive loss, ” he said.
“They get Alzheimer’s disease, in effect. They also get obese and suffer diabetes as a consequence. Hence our interest.”
Building on the data the scientists at Roslin get from Dogslife, they will utilise the latest techniques in DNA analysis to understand the genetic roots of labrador disease.
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(Image credit: Andre Zehetbauer)