SCIENTIST DISCOVERS MUTANT GENE CAUSING ADVERSE REACTION BY CERTAIN DOG BREEDS TO DRUGS - “Mealey, a veterinarian and pharmacologist at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, will receive a 2013 Women to Watch in Life Science Award for identifying why certain dog breeds suffer deadly drug reactions while others do just fine…”
Researcher Katrina Mealey of Washington State University has discovered that certain breeds in the herding group (Collies, Shelties, Australian Shepherds, etc.) are predisposed to having adverse reactions to certain drugs due to a gene mutation. Read more from WSU News:
In 2001, Mealey discovered a blip in a gene called MDR1 that predisposes herding dogs such as collies, shelties, Australian shepherds and Old English sheepdogs to react violently to a simple deworming pill. Until her discovery, veterinarians were aware that certain breeds – especially collies - were at risk for adverse reactions to the popular drug ivermectin that destroys heartworm, ear mites and numerous other parasites.
Not long after entering the market in the 1980s, ivermectin became known as a super-weapon drug that protects animals and humans alike. But in a sliver of the vast dog world, veterinarians observed that something was amiss. While ivermectin would cure a poodle, it could kill a collie.
Knowing this, “veterinarians followed the adage, ‘White feet, don’t treat,’ but no one knew the ‘why’ behind it,” said Mealey. "A hereditary component was suspected and so veterinarians wondered if it applied to other breeds as well.”
And it did. Leading a group of WSU researchers, Mealey pinpointed the MDR1 gene and in 2001 published the findings in the journal Pharmacogenics. Since then, she has found 12 other breeds that can carry the faulty gene.
Thanks to Mealey’s discovery, precautions can be taken to protect dogs in the herding group from drugs that do not agree with their biology. Click here for the full story. Also, click here for the list of dog breeds affected by the gene mutation.