Researchers at the University of Helsinki, UC Davis and the University of Jyväskylä have discovered that the gene RBP4 for canine congenital eye disease is passed from the mother to the puppies in the womb.
The researchers have discovered that this recessive gene, which blocks the developing eyes of puppies from getting vitamin A, causes blindness. In order for the disease to occur, both the mother and puppy must have the mutated gene, which is why all puppies are not born blind.
It has also been determined that the RPB4 gene may be related to human MAC disease. So again, understanding canine diseases may lead to cures for humans.
An Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, Photo: Lohi Research Group
The good news is that researchers have developed a DNA test that can identify those dogs that carry the gene. This will help both veterinarians and breeders control and hopefully eradicate blindness in this breed.