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Clover, the 10-week-old puppy, has sight saved by Suffolk animal charity

PUBLISHED: 05:30 18 September 2018

Clover is one of hundreds of puppies of he breed that will now be able to grow up with no risk of blinsness. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST

Clover is one of hundreds of puppies of he breed that will now be able to grow up with no risk of blinsness. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST

Archant

A 10-week-old puppy has been saved from blindness thanks to years of research by a Suffolk animal charity.

Taking a DNA swab of the dogs is simple and uninvasive. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUSTTaking a DNA swab of the dogs is simple and uninvasive. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST

Clover, a tiny Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, was predisposed to a particularly painful eye disease that can even lead to sight loss, but The Animal Health Trust (AHT), based just outside Newmarket, devised a brand-new DNA test that has now proved to be the saviour of a whole breed’s eyesight.

Vendeen’s did suffer from painful primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), and back when research began in 2015 it was believed that 1 in 20 dogs would suffer from the disease.

But just three years later, through breeders using the DNA test, there have been no affected puppies in the UK reported to The Kennel Club and none that have tested positive of the 1800 worldwide.

Clover, who lives in Scotland, is just one of hundreds of puppies that will now live a life without blindness - and the test could be expanded beyond the Vendeen breed as well.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh with her dogs, Libby and Tess - who could one day benefit from the same DNA test. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUSTDr Cathryn Mellersh with her dogs, Libby and Tess - who could one day benefit from the same DNA test. Picture: ANIMAL HEALTH TRUST

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, said: “Years of work went into developing this DNA test which makes it even more rewarding to see it used so well to stop these lovely dogs from going blind.

“Glaucoma is a very debilitating and painful disease and some dogs have to their eyes removed as a result.

“We are studying glaucoma and many other blinding diseases in lots of dog breeds. These mutations can also affect cross bred as well as purebred dogs, so as the popularity of cross bred dogs continues to rise, DNA health testing is more important than ever to make sure you’re breeding, or buying, puppies that are going to have the very best start in life.

“Great things can be achieved through genetic research and as humans suffer many of the same diseases as dogs, there is always the possibility that our research is going to help human medicine as well.”

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