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The fatal canine Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome gene discovered by Helsinki University found in 2 breeds (so far) may help human lung disease research.





Delilah Penn, Staff Reporter


I was looking up lung problems for my grandfather who has COPD and I came across this exciting information about another way dogs help us.


CHEST X-RAY OF LUNGS IN ACUTE RESPIRATORY DISTRESSI know the research isn’t far enough along to help his breathing problems but I wanted him to know that new discoveries happen every day.  He likes my dogs so I knew he'd be interested in this.


Researchers at the University of Helsinki (I looked it up, that’s in Finland, between Sweden and Russia!) have made a lot of health discoveries. recently ran something about that same university discovering a gene in Rhodesian Ridgebacks that rescue human epileptics#1 but right now I want to tell you about the lung disease research in dogs.


This is what the University said and it sure caught my eye. “A novel gene associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in dogs has been uncovered by scientists. The new research on this fatal disease may also help us understand the mechanisms of respiratory diseases in humans.

It turns out that there’s this “acute respiratory distress in Dalmatian dogs.” I remember reading about some kind of kidney problem in Dalmatians but this is called ARDS and it can cause puppies or young dogs to die. I watch my grandfather struggle when he has “a bad spell” and I really didn’t want to think about what I was reading. Anyway, the study started in the University of Helsinki Veterinary Teaching Hospital and I’m glad someone is getting a new perspective on human lung problems. The report mentioned that the gene could even “shed light on the causes of lung injuries” but turned out they were talking about “injuries” like pneumonia, inflammation or pulmonary fibrosis. My grandfather has had pneumonia and his doctor assured us that COPD is not hereditary so none of us have to worry.

But I paid close attention to what the article said. Like “in Dalmatians, it is a genetic lung tissue disorder.” But then it went on into stuff about it is caused by a lot of technical stuff that was over my head. What did catch my eye was this, since it was Dalmatians again, see below because I looked it up in, it said some of the “affected dogs only had one kidney” and that sure sounds like a genetic defect to me.

What I related to my Grandfather (and the rest of my family just in case the doctor was wrong and his lung problem really is genetic instead of job related) was where it said “This gene discovery provides new insights into the mechanisms of lung injuries.

I called a dog friend who really knows about “canine health” stuff and she said it was “interesting” but that it might be just another way to sell genetic testing. Huh? She rattled off a whole list of things that might have helped a few dogs “but helped the testing labs a whole lot more.


BLOOD SAMPLES ARE A VALUABLE COMMODITY IN THE VETERINARY RESEARCH MARKETWell yeah, I googled for a couple of the examples she gave me and I get it. I guess the one that best sums up the fraud in health studies and blood draws at specialty shows is this one, Health Testing Hype.#2

I found more info on high uric acid, bladder stones, and a gene in Dalmatians in Science Daily under “gene discovery in Dalmatian dogs.

Then lower on that same page I saw the article about "Breathtaking Gene Discovery in Dalmatians" about acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and further googling led me to... “A progressive pulmonary disease resulting in severe respiratory failure and death in an average of 3 weeks was diagnosed in 11 young Dalmatian dogs. The dogs were from 4 litters, all genetically related by a common ancestor” at


Whatever. I decided respiratory problems in those puppies could have been environmental instead of hereditary. Here's the interesting article on High Uric Acid - Dalmatian DNA#3 but nothing relating to lung problems, hereditary or otherwise.


I did find a lot of health and vitamin supplements#4 that will help with COPD, so we’re going to add a couple of those to his breathing medications.


Footnote: "All related dogs (for several generations) were removed from the breeding population and the disease has not been seen for years. Tissue samples and blood were frozen at that time and were used by the researchers who developed the DNA test. This is a fantastic example of breeders addressing a health issue and working together to eliminate it." by Sue MacMillan, AKC judge and mentor, DCA Board Member


Related and Reference Information:

#1 Ridgebacks that rescue human epileptics

#2 Health Testing Hype

#3 Dalmatian DNA

#4 Natural Medicine & Supplements

 Copyright ? 1703



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