28-09-2008 - DNA test could curb spread of Arabian horse affliction
Publish date: Sep 26, 2008Davis, Calif.
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-- Researchers have developed a new test to help stop the propagation of an untreatable neurological disorder that targets Arabian horses.
Equine cerebellar abiotrophy (ECA) kills neurons in the cerebellum, causing head tremors and lack of balance, according to the University of California-Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. There is no treatment or cure for the condition, and horses who carry it normally are euthanized upon diagnosis.
ECA is passed to offspring about 25 percent of the time when both parents carry the gene, according to UC-Davis geneticist Cecilia Penedo.
But a new DNA test could help determine if horses carry the gene before they are bred. The test uses a hair-root sample and identifies genetic markers of the disease, Penedo says.
The lack of treatment or cure is less of an issue if affected foals aren't born in the first place, Penedo adds.
A few breeders already have used the test, and Penedo says more have shown interest.