VetGen - The leader in veterinary genetic disease research and genetic disease detection services for purebred animals

Human DNA Helps Man's Best Friend

Cloning of human gene leads to breakthrough genetic discover

(Ann Arbor, Mich.) - VetGen, Inc. has announced a major breakthrough in canine genetic research with the introduction of a new test that could eradicate a potentially fatal disease in dogs. Researchers discovered the genetic mutation responsible for canine von Willebrand's Disease (vWD), a bleeding disorder similar to hemophilia, after the gene was successfully cloned in humans. VetGen, a Michigan-based company specializing in canine disease detection services, has developed the first reliable, non-invasive test for vWD in Scottish Terriers.

The research project, headed by University of Michigan geneticist Dr. George Brewer, was a joint effort between VetGen, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Researchers focused their initial vWD study on Scottish Terriers, one of the primary breeds affected by the disease, although work is underway to analyze the gene in several other breeds.

When used by Scottie breeders, the VetGen vWD test can provide owners with the assurance that their dogs and puppies are free of the disease, Another advantage of VetGen's vWD test is that it can be performed on dogs of any age. In addition, breeders who use VetGen's vWD test can register the results of their dog's test with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

To test their animals, owners simply take a sample of their dog's DNA by gently wiping VetGen-provided cheek swabs inside the dog's mouth, removing cells containing DNA. The swabs are then mailed to VetGen's laboratory and tested for vWD. After testing the sample, VetGen will send a summary of the results to owners. This information is especially helpful to Scottish Terrier breeders, as they can now virtually guarantee prospective buyers a puppy is clear of vWD.

VetGen also offers genetic tests for other canine diseases, including copper toxicosis in Bedlington Terriers, pyruvic kinase deficiency in Basenjis, phosphofructokinase deficiency in Springer and Cocker Spaniels and progressive retinal atrophy in Irish Setters.

VetGen, a Sloan Enterprises affiliate, is a molecular genetics company and the market leader in canine disease detection services that also offers canine DNA profiling. The company is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and draws upon several years of extensive research conducted at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Original funding for the university research was provided by grants from Scottish Terrier clubs and breeders, the American Kennel Club, the Morris Animal Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Q & A on VetGen and vWD Testing

What is von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) and who does it affect?

Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) is named after a Finnish physician Erick von Willebrand who discovered the disease in humans. vWD is a bleeding disorder prevalent in Scottish Terriers and several other breeds. vWD is similar to hemophilia in humans, as it creates a condition which inhibits a dog's ability to stop bleeding. There is currently no known cure or effective-treatment for vWD.

Dr. George Brewer, founder of VetGen, shows how simple it is to collect a DNA sample with the VetGen provided cheek swab. Scottie breeders can have the results of their dog's test within two weeks after sending their dog's sample to VetGen.

Is vWD fatal?

vWD can be fatal, especially in situations such as accidental injuries or surgery. Affected dogs may bleed spontaneously or display uncontrollable bleeding after an injury or surgery.

Do dog owners have to bring their dog to VetGen to have the test performed?

No. DNA samples are taken by dog owners using a VetGen Sample Collection Kit. The dog owner, using a cheek swab provided by VetGen, simply runs the swab inside the dog's mouth, gently scraping the lining of each of the dog's cheeks to get a sample. This process is pain free and takes only about twenty seconds. The swab with the sample is then placed back in its container and mailed to VetGen. Within two to four weeks, a summary report of the findings will be mailed to the dog owner.

How does VetGen get all of that information from only a cheek swab?

The cells that line the inside of a dog's cheek are continually being renewed, with new cells replacing the old ones. The cheek swab gently removes some of these old dead cells that contain perfect DNA samples for testing.

How reliable is the VetGen test for vWD?

VetGen genetic testing for vWD in Scottish Terriers is 100% accurate in its DNA analysis.

Is VetGen's test for vWD recognized by any veterinary organizations?

VetGen's vWD test is recognized by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Additionally, the results of your dog's vWD test can be formally registered with the OFA.

Does any other company perform this test?

No. VetGen is the only company offering Scottish Terrier breeders and owners this invaluable service.

For further information call:
VetGen at 1-800-4VETGEN. (1-800-483-8436)
The Bagpiper
1996 Number 2
By Dr. George Brewer

Canine: vWD Patents
US Patent No. 6,040,143 and 6,074,832
Licensed Exclusively by The Board of Regents of the
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) System to VetGen LLC
Go To: Genetic Test for von Willebrand's Disease - Scottish Terriers