No More Spinning the Wheel of Fortune on Dog Health: With MyDogDNA Pass Both Breeders and Owners Will Know What They're Getting

Helsinki, Finland, June 10, 2013 – Today, Genoscoper Laboratories has launched MyDogDNA Pass™, the world’s first genetics-based health assessment for dogs. Dog owners know the heartbreak and often, great cost, of owning a dog with a genetic defect. Specific breeds are noted for defects, such as heart disease, propensity for bloat, hip dysplasia, skin disorders, difficulty breathing, hereditary cancers and many, many more. Owners and breeders alike trust the source of the dog or bitch to supply correct information about health risks. But, oftentimes, they do not know and have no way of proving a puppy’s future health. Starting today, a true genetic assessment of dogs is now available. We want to express our acknowledgements to a number of Finnish breed clubs as well as to the Finnish Kennel Club for their unconditional support and guidance during the development of the world's first dog DNA pass.

Based on the first global canine DNA database, MyDogDNA Pass™ provides individual owners and breeders with test results for over 100 single dog genetic tests for any dog, including gene tests for healthy traits and for disease. It allows owners and veterinarians to assess a dog’s health and, at the same time, allows breeders to locate healthy mates for their dogs that will increase their line’s genetic diversity, while keeping unwanted diseases out of the future generations. Because of the growing database, MyDogDNA provides, for the first time in the history of canine DNA testing, insight into the genetic diversity of an individual dog as well as within a breed based on measured frequency of genes found in the tested dogs.

With just a simple swab of a dog’s cheek, an owner, breeder or veterinarian can obtain a genome-wide health assessment for any dog. Once the cheek swab sample is shipped to Genoscoper Laboratories, the dog owner will be given a user account in the MyDogDNA database, from which they can access the dog’s own MyDogDNA Pass™ at any time. The dog owner can easily share his dog DNA pass with a veterinarian, a Breed Club and even with a canine genetics research group. Most importantly for breeders, the MyDogDNA Pass™ grants every dog owner access to MyDogDNA Breeder™, the world’s first canine matchmaking tool that helps dog owners and breeders search for an optimal mate for their dog. As dogs are tested for MyDogDNA Pass™, their data are entered into the MyDogDNA database, and, with permission of the dog owner, the dogs become visible in the MyDogDNA Breeder™ matchmaking tool. People looking for a prospective mate for their dogs may look at the results for a specific breed among the tested dogs and network with owners of dogs that have different, less inbred traits from those of their own dog.

Today, we can identify over 600 inherited traits and diseases present in dogs. Canine research professionals have developed corresponding single-gene tests for more than 100 of these traits. To provide the dog owners and breeders with the most comprehensive and less costly way to assess the genetic health of dogs, MyDogDNA Pass™ bundles together the findings of the various research groups into a collection of over 100 dog DNA tests. On top of that package there is the computed genome-wide genetic diversity assessment, an essential add-on for breeders to decrease the prevalence of inherited diseases. The genetic information from all of the dogs analysed for a MyDogDNA Pass™ contributes to building the MyDogDNA database and will enable creation of dynamic breed statistics that allow breeders and Breed Clubs, for the first time ever, to monitor genetic diversity and disease frequencies within breeds, as well as to discover potential genetically different breeding lines.

“Genetic and clinical health information are both needed for a dog owner to get the most reliable overview of the dog’s health,” says Tuomas Poskiparta, CEO of Genoscoper Laboratories. “With MyDogDNA, the DNA test results are safely stored in the database, they are always available when the owner needs them and can even be shared with a veterinarian, if necessary, with one click,” he continues. “One of the biggest challenges we faced was to solve how to make this comprehensive analysis available to every dog owner at an affordable price. It was a prerequisite for us to keep the price below €200,” he notes.

The entire concept of MyDogDNA is revolutionary. The genome-wide analysis combined with the database and analytics necessitate both continuous and close collaboration among world-class genetics researchers, and bioinformatics and process industry professionals. The genetic diversity assessment of the dog’s genome and simultaneous testing of over 100 genetic mutations require use of several technologies. For example, the breeder’s matchmaking tool, MyDogDNA Breeder™, requires massive computational calculations and handles such a huge amount of data that it would be impossible to carry it all out without the very latest server technology. Furthermore, in addition to the present set of included DNA tests, as new genes are identified, they will be added to the MyDogDNA Pass™ and be tested for.

From a breeder’s point of view, the MyDogDNA Pass™ and the included matchmaking tool, MyDogDNA Breeder™, now make it possible to control the use of dogs with identified inherited disorders while maintaining and even improving the genetic diversity within breeds.

“To be able to improve the health of dog breeds, the breeders need to be able to get the most comprehensive view of the genetic health of their own dogs and possible mating partners,” explains Dr. Hannes Lohi, Professor and Chief Scientific Officer of Genoscoper Laboratories. He continues, “With traditional single-gene disease tests we only get the result related to the one particular disease and don’t know anything about other hereditary disorders or traits, let alone the genetic diversity and relationships between the selected mating partners. The most reliable insight into the dog’s genetic health is achieved when as many diseases as possible are tested for at one time. This complex information then needs to be delivered to the breeder in a dynamic way that is easy to understand. And it is important that this information is updated often, so we have a fuller picture of breed health.” Says Dr. Lohi, “In all dog breeds, preservation of genetic diversity needs to go hand in hand with the elimination of genetic disorders. It is the genetic diversity that often helps us prevent many inherited diseases.”

However, Dr. Lohi emphasises that there are many breeds that carry particular breed characteristics, such as a short, flattened snout, and are therefore known to be prone to structural health issues related to, for example, breathing problems. These problems cannot be solved with mere DNA testing, but may need different breeding concepts. “Sometimes a new approach, such as cross-breeding, may be needed”, Dr. Lohi explains.

In addition to the new information MyDogDNA Pass™ delivers to breeders and veterinarians, it also provides new tools to the scientists who are actively hunting for new genes. By connecting the dog owners and different university research groups, MyDogDNA Pass™ will enable a free exchange of information that will support both canine and human genetics research. “One of MyDogDNA’s goals is to offer a new channel to canine genetics research for collecting information about dogs’ diet, behaviour and various symptoms that can help researchers find new associated genes,” says Poskiparta.

No dog breed has ever before been subjected to simultaneous testing of over 100 genetic mutations at once. Thanks to a number of Finnish breeders and Breed Clubs, the newly launched MyDogDNA database already contains the results of genome-wide health assessments from more than 2,400 dogs representing over 50 breeds. “The results of the MyDogDNA pilot analysis, carried out during the spring, are fresh on the researchers’ desks, and we were delighted to see that there were so many active Finnish breeders and Breed Clubs that joined us to take the first step to launch MyDogDNA. However, this is just a start of a broader collaboration and we invite every dog owner, breeder, veterinarian and researcher from around the world to take action to improve the health of dogs,” Poskiparta concludes.

For further information, please visit www.mydogdna.com
Download the MyDogDNA Pass™ media pack at: http://www.mydogdna.com/media
For press and media enquiries, please contact:
Ms Saila Sorsa, Head of Customer Relations at Genoscoper Laboratories
mobile +358 50 5736697, saila.sorsa(at)mydogdna.com