Lab adds new genetic tests to aid equine breeding decisions

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Dr Rebecca Bellone of the VGL.
Dr Rebecca Bellone of the VGL. © UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) has added two new tests for horse owners, and has been licenced to offer type 1 polysaccharide storage disease (PSSM1) testing.

The PSSM1 test can now be offered as a standalone test and as part of a health panel, said Dr Rebecca Bellone, director of the VGL.

“This will be important in helping inform horse owners and veterinarians on clinical, management, and breeding decisions for multiple horse breeds.”

PSSM1 is a potentially life-threatening glycogen storage disease that affects skeletal muscles of the horse. The disease results from the accumulation of abnormal glycogen that can damage muscle cells. These excess abnormal sugars can cause breakdown of muscle fibers, which leads to muscle pain, weakness, skin twitching, sweating, and a reluctance to move.

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) provides animal parentage verification, identification, forensics services, genetic diagnostics and genetic disease research as a self-supporting unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.
The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) provides animal parentage verification, identification, forensics services, genetic diagnostics and genetic disease research as a self-supporting unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. © Don Preisler / UC Regents

Two other tests that were discovered from equine genetics research projects at UC Davis are now available at the laboratory: Equine familial isolated hypocalcemia (EFIH), previously termed idiopathic hypocalcemia, is an invariably fatal condition that causes involuntary contraction of muscles and seizures in Thoroughbred foals; and Congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), an inherited condition in which affected individuals are unable to see in low light or dark conditions. This test detects a causal variant specific to Tennessee Walking Horses.

Each of the tests cost $US40.

The VGL has also upgraded its website to be more user-and mobile-friendly, and provide an educational resource for animal owners and veterinarians worldwide. Highlights of the new site include providing a quick summary about tests, as well as more detailed explanations about genetic test results and their meanings and impacts, including references for more information. The new site also has expanded searchable functions to easily find information about specific genetic tests.

“We are continually seeking new ways to provide efficient means of communicating news and educating on genetic testing and research findings with our clients,” Bellone said.

“This new site now allows us to present news stories and the most up-to-date research, all in easily navigable fields. Consistent with our mission, the goal of the design of this site was to provide an engaging and dynamic experience for our clients to assist in their learning about genetics and best utilization of genetic testing information.”

 

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