Dog gene linked to Parkinsons

A gene mutation found in Tibetan terriers can also be found in a fatal human neurological disorder related to Parkinson’s disease, researchers at the University of Missouri have found.

The mutation causes a disease in Tibetian Terriers called adult-onset neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis (NCL). NCL causes a buildup of material in brain and eye cells, which interferes with nerve cell function. Due to this buildup, around the age of five years old, the dog begins to exhibit dementia, impaired visual behavior, loss of coordination, and shows unwarranted aggression.

Utilizing the canine genome map and DNA samples from dogs diagnosed with NCL, the researchers were able to pinpoint the specific gene that causes NCL.  The mutation they discovered in dogs, however, causes a hereditary form of Parkinson’s disease in humans. 

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