AKC eNewsletter


Summer 2010
CHF Releases New Health Conference Videos
"Cancer & Genomics," "Herpesvirus-1" complete 10-part free online series

AKC Canine Health FoundationThe AKC Canine Health Foundation has released two new videos in a series recorded at the 2009 National Parent Club Canine Health Conference, held in St. Louis. The releases—“Canine Cancer & Comparative Genomics: New Technologies, New Opportunities” (Dr. Matthew Breen) and “Canine Herpesvirus-1: A New Pathogenic Role for an Old Virus” (Dr. Eric Ledbetter)—complete the 10-part series of videos archived here.

The conference, sponsored by Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, brought together leading researchers and representatives from AKC parent clubs to discuss the present and future of canine health research.

“Canine Cancer & Comparative Genomics”
Comparative genomics may be defined broadly as any area of research in which the sequence and function of genomes of different species are compared. With complete genome sequences available both for human and dog, we can now identify regions of both genomes shared by and associated with disease, and thus begin to understand which genes specifically are playing key roles in a variety of disease processes. The core similarity of genes defining human and dog allows the dog to be considered as a valid biomedical model system of numerous human genetic disease, including cancers.

The comparative value of biomedical research is widely accepted and there is every expectation that data generated from studies of canine diseases ultimately will have a major impact on human health.

The application of advanced genomic technologies for routine health is cost prohibitive, even for human medicine, but technology is becoming faster and less expensive. The human genome was estimated to have cost approximately 3–$5 billion and took almost 15 years to complete; the mouse genome cost $100,000,000 and took approximately three years; and the dog genome cost $40,000,000 and took about a year. The race for the $1,000 genome sequence has begun.

It is conceivable that, as with human health, the next decade may bring genotyping and whole genome sequencing and analysis, and proteinomic evaluation of animal patients for the purposes of health management.

Such analysis of patients will begin to play a central role in routine veterinary care as we approach the ultimate goal in clinical veterinary genomics: individualized medicine based on the genetic health status of our animals.

Dr. Matthew Breen, of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, researches the genomics, genome mapping, and the comparative aspects of canine cancer. He has a number of active CHF grants focused on the molecular cytogenetic evaluation of canine tumors.

Breen completed his Ph.D. in cytogenetics in 1990, then spent two years as a “Post Doc” in molecular genetics at the U.K. Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh.

Breen spent four years working for the research arm of the Australian Thoroughbred industry before returning to the U.K. in 1996. His laboratory developed molecular cytogenetics reagents, resources and techniques for application to canine genome mapping, comparative cytogenetics, and cancer studies.

“Canine Herpesvirus-1”
Canine herpesvirus-1 (CHV-1) was first identified in the mid-1960s as a cause of severe morbidity and mortality in fetal and neonatal dogs. In the following decades, CHV-1 infections in mature dogs were sporadically and infrequently associated with several relatively mild conditions, including genital mucositis and respiratory-tract disease. More recently, the significance of CHV-1 as an ocular pathogen in mature dogs has been recognized and investigated. In the past few years, several ocular diseases have been linked to primary and recurrent CHV-1 infection in mature dogs, including conjunctivitis, ulcerative keratitis, and nonulcerative keratitis. In addition, CHV-1 has been reported as the most common etiology of viral conjunctivitis in client-owned dogs and as a cause of large epizootics of ocular disease in group-housed dogs. The true prevalence and spectrum of CHV-1 ocular diseases remain unknown, but recent discoveries suggest a common and substantial role for this virus in the development of ocular diseases in dogs of all ages.


Dr. Eric C. Ledbetter
is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

After graduating from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, he completed a small-animal medicine and surgery internship at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and an ophthalmology internship at the Animal Ophthalmology Clinic in Dallas. His residency training in ophthalmology was completed at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Ledbetter’s research program focuses on ocular infectious diseases and noninvasive imaging techniques of the anterior segment of the eye.


Ronald N. Rella, Director, Breeder Services
Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
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