Collecting UK controls for the ARVC preclinical diagnosis trial has not been easy. Either there is no real interest among UK breeders because ARVC is no longer a problem for the show section of the breed, or people have become fed up with me asking for one thing after another, whether blood, swabs, pedigrees or whatever. I thought at one point that I would have to write to Dr Hamilton in Canada and indicate that I could not raise the blood samples that were essential for his trial. But then a couple of noted breeders stepped in to boost the numbers that are being provided by old time friends who are still eager to help. I think we will make it now. When I have all the samples promised I’ll be shipping them off to Canada. I hope to hear the results within weeks or days.
On JKD, Professor Amos is working all hours, and I get frequent updates on how many samples he has extracted and entered on his database, and how many probes he now has working. His enthusiasm helps balance the dismal bits that one meets a bit too often at the non-scientific level.
One such dispiriting bit has been learning that one or two breeders abroad are threatening legal action if owners of JKD cases allow the pedigrees of their sick puppies to be published. Let me make the vital point that publication is to help breeders, all breeders, giving everyone a better chance of avoiding production of more affected pups. It is not an attack on anybody. How dismal can all this get?
At another somewhat dismaying level, it seems that some people think the various research groups are in competition and that one should support only one and not another. So, here, can I make the point that while the research groups are each trying to achieve the same results – to find the JKD gene – but they are doing so by different means, and these should, if successful, complement and validate each other. And yet other groups may come forward with new ideas, and these too should be supported. Handicapping one or other group by withholding research material will not help overall, and JKD presents challenge enough in its own right. So, please send blood samples, swabs or whatever is wanted to every research group seeking such material.
I think I read somewhere that only a third of efforts to find genes in dogs are successful. There are many technical reasons for this, not enough markers, not in the right place, not enough variability the exact functions of genes not known so one does not know what one is looking for. Add in all the complications with dog breeding, with upset owner and hostile breeders, plus the challenges of others affected, and the whole political scene, and the difficulties beyond the basic genetics are huge. So come on, folks, can we not work together to reduce the difficulties that we actually can control.