The domestic dog offers a unique opportunity to explore the genetic basis of disease, morphology and behaviour. Humans share many diseases with our canine companions, making dogs an ideal model organism for comparative disease genetics. Using newly developed resources, genome-wide association studies in dog breeds are proving to be exceptionally powerful. Towards this aim, veterinarians and geneticists from 12 European countries are collaborating to collect and analyse the DNA from large cohorts of dogs suffering from a range of carefully defined diseases of relevance to human health. This project, named LUPA, has already delivered considerable results. The consortium has collaborated to develop a new high density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array. Mutations for four monogenic diseases have been identified and the information has been utilised to find mutations in human patients. Several complex diseases have been mapped and fine mapping is underway. These findings should ultimately lead to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying complex diseases in both humans and their best friend.
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