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Morris Animal Foundation Expands Efforts to Improve Cat Health

Morris Animal Foundation has partnered with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and the Winn Feline Foundation (WFF) to create the Cat Health Network to improve feline health and welfare by funding feline health studies.

Thanks to a generous gift from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Morris Animal Foundation worked with scientists to develop a new genetic tool for studying feline diseases. This new tool is a gene chip containing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced "snips"). The SNPs function as genetic markers that will help scientists identify genetic predispositions to such diseases as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, infectious diseases and others.  

Morris Animal Foundation will donate limited use of this tool to scientists who apply for funding through the Cat Health Network. The AAFP, AVMF and WFF will work together to provide an estimated $100,000 per year in funding for research projects using the SNPs.

By joining AAFP, AVMF and WFF, Morris Animal Foundation is expanding its efforts to bring about critical breakthroughs in feline health issues.

Information gained from research using these genetic tools should provide veterinarians with increased knowledge and capabilities to prevent and treat a wide range of cat diseases.

“Use of the feline SNP chips will allow us to identify genes that contribute to development of a variety of complex diseases much more efficiently,” said Dr. Wayne Jensen, chief scientific officer for Morris Animal Foundation. “Answering questions about underlying genetic predispositions for development of complex diseases will provide critical information for identification of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods to treat these diseases.”

What exactly are SNPs again?
olecules that, when linked together, form the building blocks of DNA or RNA. SNPs are DNA sequence variations that occur when a single nucleotide in the genome sequence is altered. Many SNPs have no effect on cell function, but scientists believe others could predispose people and animals to disease or influence their response to a drug. Scientists believe SNP maps will help them identify the multiple genes associated with complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. These associations are difficult to establish with conventional gene-hunting methods because a single altered gene may make only a small contribution to a disease. Although SNPs do not cause disease, they can help identify the gene(s) that increase the likelihood that a person or animal will develop a particular illness.

Media Contact:
Tina Martinez: 303.708.3418

Posted by on April 5, 2011.

Categories: Cat diseases, Cat health, Feline health


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