Most Rhodesian Ridgebacks seem to suffer from a serious problem – they tend to lose their hearing completely when they are one year old. Some can show some symptoms of deafness even earlier – at four months old.
But what is it that causes that issue? After a very thorough investigation by Dr. Mark Neff and his team at the University of California, they determined that early-onset adult deafness (EOAD) was caused by a defective gene in canine chromosome 18. Unfortunately, the research took more than a decade.
Perseverance and Results
After a long time of trying to, Embark has finally managed to identify the mutation in the EPS8L2 gene. It has turned out that this mutation is recessive, which means that both parents must carry it for it to be passed to the offspring. This is a groundbreaking discovery since now EOAD can be prevented only by gene screening. All that breeders would have to be would be to pair a carrier and a non-carrier, to ensure that the litter won’t have EOAD.
However, Dr. Neff looks even further than this. He believes that through the research on EOAD in dogs, some valuable discoveries could be made for EOAD in humans, including therapy for hearing disorders in children.
Embark’s findings are crucial for discovering genetic links in dogs’ health issues. A lot of the information received comes from customers taking part in different health surveys. However, this could easily lead to discoveries in the sphere of human health, too!