The MCOA PRA Committee, with Dr. Acland, undertook a breeding study to help determine the mode of inheritance of PRA in Mastiffs. The Study was based on a proposal written by Dr. Acland for the MCOA and peer reviewed by well known and respected PhDs in the field of DNA research.
In simple terms the Study involved breeding a PRA affected Mastiff to a Beagle mix from Dr. Acland's kennel that was known not to carry any PRA genes. The pups from this litter were placed in good homes with owners who made a commitment to the research and were willing to have Electroretinagrams (ERGs) done every six months until the pups were two years old. If any of the pups developed PRA then PRA in Mastiffs would be proven to be dominant - which is the case as two Meagles out of six developed PRA.
Ch. Lamar's Nut'n But Trouble was bred October 16, 1999!
Many thanks to Trouble's owner and breeder for their generous and unstinting support of the PRA Study. To the left is a picture of Trouble. To the right, a picture of the sire of the litter – a beagle mix from the Retinal Disease Study Facility known to be free of the gene for PRA.
The Rest of the Story
Mastiffs PRA DNA Test Now Available
In June 2001 OptiGen informed the MCOA PRA Research Committee that the Mastiff PRA DNA test was ready to go. OptiGen immediately started testing Mastiffs as soon as they made the announcement that the test was commercially available.
The price of the PRA DNA Test is $120 (as of 12/1/2009). OptiGen provides an automatic 5% discount if you request a test online prior to having your vet draw and send in blood (Please be sure to print out OptiGen's instructions and submission form for your veterinarian). In addition, when there are opportunities for Mastiff owners to send 20 or more samples at one time (such as from a testing clinic), OptiGen will offer a group discount of 20%. They also offer other discounts throughout the year and you can go to their website to look at the current Discount Clinic Schedule.
Mastiffs Providing Model for Human Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)
The June 2002 issue of DVM News Magazine has an article titled "ENGLISH MASTIFF A MODEL FOR HUMAN EYE DISEASE" It states that the Mastiff breed is enabling scientists to help explain retinitis pigmentosa in humans. It is a joint study by Cornell Baker Institute for Animal Health and The University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute and was reported in the April 30, 2002 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Scheie Eye Institute also shared an article on their website dated April 23, 2002 titled: “Dog Discovery a Major Step in Treatment of Genetic Blindness, Similarities between Humans and Mastiffs Pose New Hope for Observation, Treatment”