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Collaborative Success Stories: A dog in the Hunt


Collaborative Success Stories: A Dog in the Hunt

University of Missouri researchers have discovered a connection between a canine neurological mutation and Parkinson’s disease in humans.

Veterinary scientists Dennis O’Brien and Gary Johnson led a team of researchers in targeting a mutation in brain cells that causes neurological disease in canines. Dogs who are affected develop poor coordination and a form of Parkinson’s disease at a young age. The mutation is

in a novel gene that has not previously been linked to Parkinson’s disease in people. Further research could lead to future prevention and treatment of both hereditary Parkinson’s and the more typical acquired Parkinson’s. The results are already helping our canine companions by giving dog breeders the tools to eliminate the mutation from the breeds affected.

The finding is the result of almost 10 years of work, and O’Brien believes it couldn’t have occurred without the unique combination of animal and human medicine at MU: “It’s much easier to discover gene issues in dogs,” he says. “Because we have a medical school and veterinary school near each other, we can find the genes in the dog and then  find out if they cause a similar disease in people.”

Drs. Dennis O’Brien and Gary Johnson have appointments in MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine