Friday, January 22, 2016

99 Lives Sheds Light On Cat & Human Health

Long Haired Calico Cat
© wildshots4u -
Thousands of humans and hundreds of dogs have had full genome sequencing for their health care. But until University of Missouri researcher Leslie Lyons started the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative, there had been just one cat.

Lyons aims to
sequence 99 cats, hoping to learn the genetic causes for obesity, diabetes, asthma, urinary tract infections, cancers, heart disease and more.

But the research could also benefit human health. So far, her researchers have discovered mutations in genes that cause
recessive progressive retinal atrophy in Persian cats. They also found the mutation that caused retinitis pigmentosa in a Bengal. The mutations correlate to retinitis pigmentosa and Leber's Congenital Amaurosis in humans. Leber's Congenital Amaurosis is one of the most common causes of blindness in children and affects two or three of every 100,000 newborns.

The discovery
could help researchers develop models to better understand the disease pathways associated with the human eye diseases and develop diagnostic and screening tests that will improve treatment.

The 99 Lives Cat Genome Initiative is a project of
the University of Missouri, the University of California, Davis and industrial partners. Any cat can participate and help science leap forward by donating a few drops of blood.  If your cat wants to help out (mine all said they're too busy for a visit to the vet), you'll find more information on the 99 Lives website.

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