In an article recently published on ScienceDaily, a study was done revealing the connection between genetic mutations and chondrodystrophy. This is more commonly known as a disorder causing abnormally short legs and intervertebral discs. Danika Brannasch, who studies veterinary genetics, explains that "dogs with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) are 50 times more likely to have this mutation." The ability to identify the cause of the pain is a huge step towards relief for the suffering pets. In extremely severe cases, which I've actually experienced with my own dachshund, the herniated discs can lead to paralysis. The treatment for this condition is insanely expensive, and often the dogs are euthanized because the treatment doesn't guarantee 100% success.
Danika Brannasch began her study with finding importance on chromosome 12, showing a link to unusually long bone growth. During the study, Brannasch's team found that the breeds that shared this DNA sequence were among the beagles, dachshunds, and spaniels. With connections to the University of California, Davis, veterinary hospital, the team was able to get a closer look at many IVDD cases to observe the DNA sequences of the dogs involved. A veterinarian student, Emily Brown, was the one to identify the FGR4 retrogene mutation, which was causing the growth abnormalities. As the study continued in depth, the more clear it became to see a connection with the mutation in humans as well (comparing to animals). Brannasch explained that "having the ability to eliminate a disease as painful and debilitating as IVDD is the most satisfying result of my scientific career."
I think this is an absolutely amazing discovery. It can really save a lot of families from the heartbreak of watching their pets suffer, and it can save the poor pets from experiencing a lot of pain. I really wish this study had been completed years ago! Maybe we wouldn't have had to put down our poor little pup. Knowing the cause of the mutation is extremely important to not only owners, but to breeders as well, in hopes that one day the condition can be bred out completely.