Epilepsy is the most prevalent chronic neurological disorder found in dogs and our research is primarily focused on idiopathic (cause unknown) epilepsy (IE).

We are conducting research to try to identify the variants in the DNA of a dog that might be associated with the development of IE and we are working towards developing tools to try to understand and prevent this disorder in dogs.

We have used an approach called a genome-wide association study, or genome scan, to search for regions of the DNA that may be involved in idiopathic epilepsy, which we hope will help us to understand the underlying genetic causes of this condition.

To date, scientists at the AHT have conducted two genome-wide association studies (genome scans), in the Border Collie and Italian Spinone and we are now planning to expand our research to include more breeds by working with the Kennel Club and other breed societies and collaborators.

Our studies so far have indicated that idiopathic epilepsy is likely to be a complex disease in most breeds; this means that there may be several genetic factors involved with the interplay of (as yet unidentified) environmental (non-genetic) influences.

We hope that further research may also improve our understanding of the biology of the disease process and we would like to recruit more dogs to take part in these studies.

We are interested in taking cheek swab DNA samples from dogs of the two breeds above, over the age of eight years, and who are unaffected by epilepsy/seizures; and from dogs of any age and any breed diagnosed with IE.

If you or any of your clients would like to contribute to our research by submitting a sample, or would like further information on our research, then please contact Donna Foster at the Animal Health Trust: donna.foster@aht.org.uk

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