university of Missouri canine epilepsy project
This study will require everyone to work together in hopes of eliminating this devastating disease from our beloved Cane Corso. The goal is to identify the gene(s) responsible for genetic/inheritable epilepsy (sometimes referred to as idiopathic epilepsy). Through identification, the hope is to be able to evaluate Cane Corsos for their propensity to produce epilepsy in their offspring. This is a significant undertaking that will take time, resources and financial support.
What can you do to help?
- If you have a Cane Corso who has seizures, which have been diagnosed as epilepsy, you can submit a blood sample from your dog to the University of Missouri. The University of Missouri does not charge for sample submission, but does request that you fill out some forms with information about your dog, his/her pedigree and specifics about your dog’s seizures. Sample submission will be kept under a strict confidentiality agreement. The University of Missouri will not release any information about dogs who have had samples submitted to anyone other than the owner of the dog and, in some cases (when permitted), the breeder.
- If you know anyone who has a Cane Corso who has seizures, encourage them to submit a blood sample from their dog to the University of Missouri and fill out the appropriate paperwork. Assure them that it will be confidential.
- If you are a breeder and have produced a dog with seizures, the University of Missouri has placed emphasis on the value of sample submission from family groups. Remember, sample submissions are kept confidential. They are specifically looking for:
- Donate funds to support this research! While the University of Missouri does have grants for epilepsy research in dogs, these grants do not guarantee any Cane Corso specific research. The cost to map the genome of a single dog is $2,500, and in order for us to achieve success, we expect multiple Cane Corsos will need to be mapped.
- Donations can be made to the CCAA (see button above and to the left) and will be forwarded to the University of Missouri.
- Donations can be made directly to the University of Missouri using this form (also attached below) and are tax deductible. We have already filled in the appropriate information to assure that donations sent in go directly to the Cane Corso Epilepsy Research project.
How does it work?
It has been a year since the initiation of the Cane Corso Epilepsy Research Project. First and foremost, this would not have been at all possible without the Cane Corso community coming together for the love of the breed, and we thank all of you for that.
This project did get off to a slower than expected start given some issues with the genome sequencing equipment used by the University of Missouri. This was not the fault of anyone involved in the study, but an unfortunate setback. As of May 10, 2018 the Cane Corso Epilepsy Research Project (CCERP) has successfully and directly funded the whole genome sequencing of 3 Cane Corsos and the 4th Cane Corso is in process.
Dr. Johnson’s research does so much more than whole genome sequencing. Once the sequenced information is reported back, there are multiple analyses done with the information. This requires specialized equipment, software, and, of course, people to interpret the information. Dr. Johnson and his team have put a lot of time and energy into this project, and continue to do so.
Of the 3 sequenced Corsos, one was reported to not have seizures (the control) and two were reported to have seizures. The 4th Cane Corso, which is getting ready to go off for whole genome sequencing, is also reported to have seizures. Some interesting discoveries were made in identifying a mutation in a Cane Corso, which is similar to a disorder in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, referred to as Cavalier Collapse or Episodic Falling Syndrome. In Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, this genetic disease is not expressed in seizures, but seizure like activity called paroxysmal exercise-induced dyskinesia. This mutation has not previously been identified in any other breed. Although interesting, like NCL, this mutation was not identified in the other Cane Corso samples at the University of Missouri, so research continues to push forward. With each advancement in technology and software, previously analyzed Corso genomes will be reevaluated for potentially missed mutations. Currently, the already sequenced Corsos are undergoing analysis with new software that identifies copy –number variants. Copy-number variants are responsible for epilepsy that isn’t breed specific, and also the common cause of epilepsy in people. The information gathered from the multiple studies simultaneously running at the University of Missouri can greatly benefit the Cane Corso as well as other breeds.
Currently, the University of Missouri has 130 Cane Corso DNA samples. 61 of the 130 total samples are FTA card samples (not blood samples) and so, cannot be used for sequencing. However, these FTA card samples can be, and are used in the CCERP. The remaining 69 samples consist of 61 Cane Corso blood samples and 8 blood samples from Cane Corsos with seizures.
Just as every grant has a beginning, every grant must also have an ending. The Canine Health Foundation’s grant for epilepsy research comes to an end this year. Dr. Johnson and his team understand that this sort of research takes time and persistence, and he has no intention of giving up on the Cane Corso. For as long as we together can continue to support the CCERP, Dr. Johnson will continue his work. What the Cane Corso Epilepsy Research Project currently needs are more financial contributions for research, owners of dogs who suffer from seizures to submit blood samples, and for everyone to continue sharing the efforts and supporting each other as we battle epilepsy.
If you have any questions about this project, please feel free to contact Stephanie Simpson.