Wisdom Panel Publishes Largest Genetic Screening Studies of Cats, Dogs

Glenn Polyn//June 16, 2022//

Wisdom Panel Publishes Largest Genetic Screening Studies of Cats, Dogs

Glenn Polyn //June 16, 2022//

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Press release: Widsom Panel

Wisdom Panel, the world leader in pet genetics and maker of Wisdom Panel pet DNA tests, recently announced the publication of the two largest genetic screening studies of cats and dogs ever conducted.

Examining more than one million pets across the two studies, the research team behind Wisdom Panel — the most accurate pet DNA test on the market — genotyped thousands of genetic variants, providing valuable insights into genetic diversity and variants associated with disease or traits in cats and dogs.

“The results of these two studies, the largest genetic screening studies of cats and dogs ever completed, provide crucially important scientific knowledge for researchers, ” said Heidi Anderson, Ph.D. senior scientist, feline genetics at Wisdom Panel. “Not only do they reinforce the importance of comprehensive genetic panel testing in personalized veterinary care, health research, and breeding programs, they help provide a foundation for uncovering the genetic basis of more complex disorders, ranging from cancer to heart disease, ultimately improving veterinary care and health outcomes for pets.”

Conducted in partnership with the University of Helsinki, the study of domestic cat DNA — Genetic epidemiology of blood type, disease and trait variants, and genome-wide genetic diversity in over 11,000 domestic cats, published as an original research article in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Genetics — identified disease-causing variants in new breeds, finding that 13 genetic variants associated with disease in cats are present in more pedigreed breeds than previously thought. However, because of selective breeding programs and the prevalence of genetic screening for known disease variants, some variants are declining in frequency in breeds regularly screened for the genetic markers.

The researchers genotyped over 11,000 domestic cats for 87 genetic variants associated with disease, blood type or physical appearance, finding 13 previously undocumented disease-causing variants in 47 breeds or breed types. The non-pedigreed cats were on average more diverse compared to all pedigreed cats and three disease-associated genetic variants were observed in non-pedigreed cats only.

Wisdom Panel has also conducted the largest-ever single study of dogs to date — Genetic prevalence and clinical relevance of canine Mendelian disease variants in over one million dogs — with more than one million representative dogs selected from the company’s existing DNA database of more than three million dogs.

In the study, available in preprint on bioRxiv, Wisdom Panel researchers examined the DNA of more than one million dogs and combined the results with clinical veterinary records to better understand the prevalence and distribution of 250 disease-causing variants in dogs regardless of their breed or ancestry. The study found that disease mutations are collectively common in all dogs and that many health issues are shared by both mixed breed and purebred dogs. The findings of the study also emphasize the importance of healthy breeding programs, namely that lower genetic diversity levels are associated with an increased risk for manifesting inherited diseases.

“In addition to demonstrating the benefit of genetic screening in clinical veterinary and direct-to-consumer settings, the studies help raise awareness of various inherited conditions in cats and dogs and illustrate how genetic testing can be a proactive investment in a pet’s health care,” said Jonas Donner, Ph.D., senior scientist, canine genetics at Wisdom Panel who led the million-dog study.