Professor Hannes Lohi’s research group has discovered a new Lgi2 epilepsy gene in the Lagotto Romagnolo breed of dogs famous for their ability to sniff out truffles. The discovery by the research group from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Centre gives an alternative perspective into the development of a child’s brain and the remission mechanisms in childhood epilepsies. The genetic test developed for the Lagotto breed will also assist dog breeders to eliminate epilepsy from the breed.
The Lgi2 genetic defect is the first focal epilepsy gene found in dogs and it is found only in lagottos.
— Every third Lagotto Romagnolo carries the gene mutation in its genome and we have developed a genetic test to be used by breeders to help eliminate the disease. Equally this gene has not previously been linked with human epilepsy and so it is also a new candidate gene in childhood epilepsy, explains Professor Lohi.
Professor Lohi’s research group has built a canine DNA bank in Finland with samples from more than 250 breeds. The DNA bank plays an important role in the research work. The research group also examines epilepsy in other dog breeds and has carried out new gene positioning work with these as well.
— I believe that there will be more successes such as this with the truffle dogs. Epilepsy in dogs is spontaneous, reminiscent of human epilepsy and as such it offers an excellent opportunity for epilepsy research for the benefit of both humans and dogs, says Professor Lohi.
Epilepsy is related to electrical interference in the brain and it presents both in childhood and in old age. Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder in children.
Professor Lohi’s group’s research was published in the respected scientific journal PlosGenetics.
Discovery of gene in truffle dogs advances epilepsy research
LEHTIKUVA / MARTTI KAINULAINEN