Pit bulls may provide clues to brain disease
Scientists have discovered a gene mutation that causes a fatal neurodegenerative disease in American Staffordshire terriers, and they say the same gene may also be linked to a fatal brain disease in humans.
The discovery of the gene may lead to improved screening and diagnosis of the disease in dogs, and could be a first step in developing a cure for NCLs (neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses) in humans, Business Week reports.
NCLs are a family of diseases that lead to mental and motor deterioration and death.
Adult-onset NCL affects one of every 400 registered American Staffordshire terriers, according to research team member Dr. Natasha Olby, an associate professor of neurology at North Carolina State University.
Genetic analysis revealed the location of the specific gene and an entirely new mutation that has not been reported in people.
In humans, NCLs such as Batten disease mostly affect children, but there is an adult-onset form called Kufs’ disease that causes gradual death of brain neurons, resulting in vision loss, epilepsy, loss of coordination and dementia, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The findings mean that researchers can now conduct tests to determine if the same mutation is responsible for Kufs’ disease in humans.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
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