99 Lives Sheds Light On Cat & Human Health

Long Haired Calico Cat
© wildshots4u – Fotolia.com
Thousands
of humans and hundreds of dogs have had full genome sequencing for
their health care. But until University of Missouri researcher Leslie Lyons started the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative, there had been just one cat.

Lyons aims to sequence
99 cats, hoping to learn the genetic causes for obesity, diabetes,
asthma, urinary tract infections, cancers, heart disease and more.

But the research could also benefit human health. So far, her researchers have discovered mutations in genes that cause recessive progressive retinal atrophy in Persian cats. They also found the mutation that caused retinitis pigmentosa in a Bengal. The mutations correlate
to retinitis pigmentosa and Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis in humans.
Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis is one of the most common causes of
blindness in children and affects two or three of every 100,000
newborns.

The discovery could help researchers develop
models to better understand the disease pathways associated with the
human eye diseases and develop diagnostic and screening tests that will
improve treatment.

The 99 Lives Cat Genome Initiative is a project of the University of Missouri, the University of California, Davis
and industrial partners. Any cat can participate and help science leap
forward by donating a few drops of blood.  If your cat wants to help out
(mine all said they’re too busy for a visit to the vet), you’ll find
more information on the 99 Lives website.

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