New Epilespy Gene Found in Dogs May Help Humans
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New Epilespy Gene Found in Dogs May Help Humans

Epilepsy affects about 5 million Americans. Idiopathic epilepsy is the type where the origin of the disorder is unknown. Neuropsychologists link this type of epilepsy to a genetic link, but the link in this type of epilepsy has not been found yet. Research on canine epilepsy may prove to pave the way to finding the causes of this type of epilepsy in humans.

Research on animals has proven to be invaluable for humans.  By researching animals we can hope to find a cure for the various illnesses that plague human beings.  Recently a new gene has been found in dogs that proves to be an epilepsy gene.  It is found on chromosome 17.  This breakthrough will shed light not only on canine epilepsy but on human epilepsy as well.

There are many factors involving epilepsy in humans such as the age of onset, the symptoms, the causes, and the severity of these symptoms and causes.  The prognosis can be very different.  Much has changed in the research since the time the great Canadian doctor Wilder Penfield mapped the areas of the brain that are associated with epilepsy. Still we are far from a cure in many people who are afflicted with this ailment.

Idiopathic epilepsies are epilepsies where the cause cannot be determined. Idiopathic epilepsy has a genetic link; that much we know.  The class of epilepsy will depend on the number of seizures and whether they are focal (meaning originating in a particular place) or generalized. There are about 40 percent of epilepsies that are believed to have a genetic component; therefore, finding the epilepsy gene is very important.  There are genes that have been identified with epilepsy but to date none have been found for idiopathic epilepsy. 

Belgian Shepherd dogs are a great subject pool because they can have both generalized and focal epilepsy. Researchers from several countries including Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and America are working in collaboration to find new epilepsy genes.  The chromosome researchers also note that there are other genetic factors that are involved in canine epilepsy.  This type of epilepsy is common across breeds and perhaps will be found in humans as well.

This gene mutation found in this region of the brain is also present in 20 percent of healthy Belgian Shepherds.  Dogs affected by idiopathic epilepsy usually begin to show symptoms at three-years-old.  They start with unusual movement on one side of the body.  The dog will drool and vomit and look for its owner for help. As the seizure progresses the dog will become rigid in the limbs and may lose consciousness.  At this point it may lose its bodily functions and defecate and urinate involuntarily.

Since epilepsy is the most common canine neurological disorder it stands to reason studying dogs would become a body of research needed in determining the causes for human epilepsy as well.


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Comments (3)

Nicely done!

Wow, this is really great information.  Thanks for sharing.

thank yoiu my dear frined Martin