NORWICH TERRIER EPILEPSY RESEARCH PROGRAMME
UPDATE : 3 rd . SEPTEMBER 2008
This is the Report to the Norwich Terrier Club from Dr. Mellersh who leads the Team concerned with Norwich Terrier Epilepsy Research:
I am pleased to inform you our research into epilepsy/cramping in the Norwich terrier has entered a very active phase.
In collaboration with Luisa De Risio, Head of Neurology at the AHT, we have distributed a 10 page questionnaire (attached) to the owners of all 41 dogs we have samples from that are reported to be affected by either epilepsy and/or cramping. The aim of this exercise is to gain a better understanding of the clinical signs of this condition, and to estimate whether all affected dogs seem to be suffering from the same condition or whether there might be more than one condition in the breed. This information will be vitally important when we come to analyse the results of our DNA analyses (see below).
In the questionnaire we ask whether each owner would consent to their dog(s) having a non-invasive neurological examination by Luisa at the AHT.
We have heard that a video has also been taken of an affected dog having an attack and we look forward to receiving that also.
77 DNA samples (33 from affected dogs and 44 from healthy dogs) are currently being genotyped as part of the LUPA project that the AHT is part of (http://www.eurolupa.org/). This means that each DNA sample will be analysed with 22,000 genetic markers from all over the genome (DNA) to identify those that are associated with the condition(s). In other words, we will compare the DNA of the affected dogs with the DNA of the healthy dogs and look for regions that are shared between the affected dogs and different in the healthy dogs. Once we have found this region(s) we will know where to look for the mutations responsible for the condition(s). This is why it is so important for us to be sure that all the dogs we are calling affected are really affected with the same condition - if they are really affected by different conditions we are unlikely to find the regions we are looking for. These experiments are very exciting and being able to undertake them as part of the LUPA consortium is a very valuable opportunity. If we had had to fund raise to pay for them ourselves we would have needed to raise over £14,000! We expect to receive the genotyping data within the next month or so, and it will then take us an additional one or two months to analyse it.
We would like to encourage all owners of affected dogs that have not yet completed their questionnaires to do so. We acknowledge it is lengthy, but the information we are asking for really could make all the difference when it comes to analysing the genotyping data.
We have received several requests from owners/breeders to stop using the word cramping to describe the condition. However, after due consideration, we have decided to keep referring to it as epilepsy/cramping until we know more about the clinical signs.
Cathryn Mellersh PhD