Dogs knees hold sporting injury clue

18 May 2010

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Category: Animal welfare & alternatives

xray–bones–ligament.jpgCanine genetics may be able to explain why both humans and dogs develop ligament injuries.

Scientists are appealing to owners of Newfoundland dogs to help better the understanding of cruciate ligament disease.

The disease is a degenerative condition which causes partial or complete joint instability. The torn ligament never fully heals. It is known to occur in dogs but may also have a human equivalent. Scientists want to collect and analyse the saliva of Newfie dogs to see if it provides clues to the condition in dogs, as well as possible link to humans.

If researchers can identify the genes in the dogs they may be able to translate the information to help find similar human genes which increase susceptibility to ligament injuries. What's more, once the genetic component is found in canines, appropriate breeding strategies could reduce the chances of the disease being passed on.

Earlier research has already hinted that there may be genetic factors that predispose humans to suffering from torn ligaments, particularly affecting the knee. Golfer Tiger Woods suffered from a knee ligament injury early in his career and was forced to take a long leave to recover.