CANINE GENETIC SCAMS?
$Millions donated to retained-missing testicle studies result in NO DECREASE in cryptorchidism which proves either fraud or no genetic component.
MISSING TESTICLE DNA STUDY
Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher, TheDogPlace.org
What follows is a widely circulated request for blood samples "to find the gene mutations that cause cryptorchidism."
This "missing testicle" information was first published in May 2005 so over a decade has passed and we are unable to find any recorded success in any missing testicle (cryptorchid) study but we do find a lot of $$$ are still donated by the AKC/CHF and generous dog breeders.
If in fact missing testicles (meaning not palpable because rarely are the gonads not formed) are genetic as has been postulated, why has all the genetic knowledge and advances in DNA study not resulted in a reduction of the incidence of "retained testicles"? Although most horses are gelded (castrated), blooded horses are also plagued with this problem. As in puppies, human infants may have normal testes but they are not always palpable until fully descended into the scrotum.
Cornell Veterinary University does not appear to be directly connected with this particular "missing testicle study" purported to benefit dogs although the email request below is worded to strongly suggest that the prestigious college is involved. Without research, there would be no advances in human or veterinary medicine so this sounded pretty good but then things began to fall apart. First, here is the "Cornell" email solicitation.
"Subject: Cornell study on Cryptorchidism"
"In the laboratories at the Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University, Dr. Vicki Meyers-Wallen focuses upon inherited disorders that affect canine reproduction. Our goal is to identify genes that have a negative impact upon reproduction, with the final goal of producing practical tests to identify those carrying harmful mutations. The long term goals are to reduce, and eventually remove, such deleterious genes from purebred dog populations, thus improving the reproductive soundness of purebred dogs.
"We are asking for breeders and owners to participate in our study by allowing us to collect blood samples from their dogs and related dogs. Those interested can e-mail Dr. Meyers-Wallen (see below) We are studying the DNA to find the gene mutations that cause cryptorchidism (undescended testicles). Since this is the most prevalent inherited disorder of the canine reproductive system, it would be very helpful to have a test to detect carriers of these genes. Then breeders could plan matings in which no cryptorchid offspring would be produced, while allowing the offspring to receive other desirable genes that such carriers may have."
We exposed the shady practice of collecting blood-DNA-samples (see below) under false pretenses. While requests for blood, tissue, or DNA samples may be perfectly legitimate, my litmus test for truth is whether they are willing to respond to reasonable, polite questions. When you absorb the facts herein, you can make your own judgment.
Most researchers welcome an opportunity to promote a concept or project. When a "missing testicle study" is given as the reason to elicit the cooperation of dog breeders, potential donors should be clearly informed of the purpose to which donated blood or DNA samples will be directed. Whether human or animal, DNA samples become the patentable property of the company that collects them. We are entitled to assurance that blood, tissue samples, or DNA will only be used for the stated purpose and will not be sold or otherwise “used” without our knowledge or consent.
Results of a 2010 predictive test for inherited breast cancer were withheld from the very women who donated cells from which the test was developed on grounds that the pharmaceutical company legally owned the women's cells. The women sued. Finally, test results were provided to the donors at no cost - just before the TV documentary aired.
Breeders would rejoice at the thought of finding and eliminating a gene for retained or "missing testicles", which by the way, is not the “most prevalent” inherited disorder of the canine repro system. That misstatement alone is cause to reject the validity of the study.
As has been speculated by breeders who keep track of such things, the missing testicle gene (cryptorchidism) can be carried by the FEMALE dog, analogous to von Willibrand’s Disease (bleeder) which is also carried by the female. The missing-testicle study made no mention of that possibility and it appears that only male dogs were acceptable for DNA research.
Exploration of the website links validated Dr. Vicki Meyers-Wallen’s impressive credentials but also raised questions. The first statement regarding the research is “We are studying animal models of inherited human disorders as a means to understand sex determination and differentiation at the molecular level.” Second paragraph, again relating to humans, “Affected individuals do not have a Y chromosome: the karyotypes of affected individuals are the same as those of normal females.” That could explain why blood samples from females are not necessary, which means breeders would not learn whether or not female dogs carry the gene for retained or missing testicle.
Third paragraph finally mentions dogs but the cited abnormality has nothing to do with retained testicles. “A second disorder that we are investigating, which occurs in humans and dogs, is Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome (PMDS) in which the oviducts and uterus develop in otherwise normal males.”
Finally, the fourth and concluding paragraph, quoted in its entirety, gets to the part of the study that relates to dogs “A third disorder that we are investigating in collaboration with other investigators is cryptorchidism, which is failure of the testes to descend into the scrotum. Our objective is to find the genes responsible for this disorder in the dog. We are currently collecting DNA samples from cryptorchid males and their parents and grandparents in canine families.”
To a wordsmith, "in collaboration with" sounds like "we will sell or share samples with someone else." No explanation as to why such a significant amount of blood is required as opposed to DNA studies from a cheek swab, a single hair - or a 3,000 year old speck of dust from a mummy’s tomb.
Before deciding to promote the research as requested, we decided to ask questions. This was prompted by a recent experience wherein a crew representing themselves as veterinarians from a "vet university" appeared at the Oklahoma Toy Dog Specialties to collect blood samples. They gave their pitch to a meeting room full of interested owners. The first hitch came when they were asked about a draw from jugular vein of toy dogs (not common in 2005), following which the collection team refused to clarify whether they were vets, students, or even lab techs. Amid the clamor over that, I asked if they could assure us that the DNA and blood samples would not be sold or otherwise shared. They said they didn't know, hastily left the meeting, and were nowhere to be seen the following day. Based on that experience, we decided to contact Dr. Meyers-Wallen.
I prefaced the request by explaining we are the first and largest subscriber-based website in the U.S. and would be glad to help promote their project. I asked whether there had been any study on the hereditary factor of retained testicles and what would be done with the database of information and the samples obtained. I thanked Dr. Meyers-Wallen for her anticipated response.
From: Vicki Meyers-Wallen [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2005
To: Editor Subject: Re: QUESTION re cryptorchidism study DNA sample
Dear Ms. Andrews,
Thank you for your willingness to help. I am hesitant to post this further since I am presently experiencing a tremendous response- so much so that I am having trouble keeping up with the correspondence right now. After we evaluate how many samples we actually receive from this response, I can tell whether we actually need any more.
Thank you for your patience,
Vicki N. Meyers-Wallen, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACT Associate Professor
Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, J.A. Baker Institute for Animal Health,
College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
Telephone: 607 256-5683 FAX: 607 256-5608 e-mail email@example.com
To which I responded:
“… Your failure to address any of my questions leads me to believe that this DNA sample collection may not be as altruistic as has been portrayed. Could that be true? If you have a moment to reply to all those emails from people who are responding, then surely you have time to answer basic questions? My time is limited as well but if it is a worthy project and will actually provide some tangible benefit for the dogs, it deserves promotion.”
And she replied, in total:
“I am sorry that you feel that way.”
No signature and no pretense at civility or cooperation. We leave you to interpret that as you will. We're told "It never hurts to ask" but when it comes to "university" studies for missing testicles, perhaps it does.
# Baylor College of Veterinary Medicine closed a 2007/2008 genetics study (funded in part $12,960, by the AKC/CHF) with no published results.
# As of May 2010 we have seen no news of a DNA test for a genetic component for cyrptorchidism but requests for blood and DNA samples continue.
# A Sept 2014 query failed to elicit any information about any current research to determine the canine genetic component responsible for retained or missing testicles.
# Health Testing Hype and Fraud reveals a plethora of pleas for breeders to donate blood samples.
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