Science Interviews


Sun, 6th Oct 2013

Dwarf dog genes found

Nell Barrie

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Kat - And finally, tiny dogs! I love this story. This is researchers in Finland who have been investigating dwarfism in dogs. What have they found?

Nell - So, this was looking at two both very cute breeds of dog, as I discovered after a Google search. One called the Norwegian elkhound which I think kind of looks like a really beefy Alsatian and one called a Karelian bear dog which looks like a beefy border collie.

Kat - They found faults in a gene called ITGA10. It actually causes the dogs to be dwarfs. They have shorter limbs than normal dogs. They have lots of skeletal abnormalities in these poor little dogs. But now, they've actually found this faulty gene. It turns out it also could be involved in human dwarfism syndromes that are similar. They're called chondrodysplasias. So, I think this has got quite a lot of potential, this finding.

Nell - Itís really interesting. So, I guess itís coming down to how the bones are developing and something that's gone wrong in that process and really starting to understand how that can affect the body. I was just thinking itís really interesting that you can have a fault in just one gene that has such a big effect on an animalís physiology. So, yeah, itíll be interesting to see how that's going to affect human diseases, and apparently, they've already started looking at human patients to see if they might have similar mutations.

Kat - And as far as the dog world goes as well, once you can test for this mutation, you can actually start to breed it out of the populations. So, unfortunately no more cute dwarf dogs but hopefully, healthier dogs as well.



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