January 26, 2013 - 3:12 pm
Right now we are gathering more samples from Irish Red Setters with idiopathic epilepsy and for the research we are also gathering samples from over 7 year old healthy dogs and dogs with epilepsy in the close family. Adjoining the samples, we also gather general health information with a form and illness descriptions from the dogs with idiopathic epilepsy with a separate epilepsy questionnaire.
Instructions for taking the sample and sending it to us can be found at:
The epilepsy questionnaire can be found here in several different languages:
At the moment we have samples from 134 Irish Red Setters in our data base and six out of these have epilepsy. We have seven samples from Irish Red and White Setters. We have however done preliminary research in identifying epilepsy genes with samples from our partner in the United States of America. That research consisted of 75 dogs (40 with epilepsy and 35 comparison dogs). This also included samples from six Finnish dogs. With this set of samples we couldn’t find genes predisposing to epilepsy and we are now continuing our research by collecting new samples.
The Dutch Irish Setter Club has been in contact with us earlier and we have agreed on a sample collection with them. Our partner veterinarians from the University of Utrecht are coordinating the local sample collection. Samples from other countries can be sent directly to us.
Unfortunately I cannot say for certainty how many samples we need in this breed to find the genes causing epilepsy. On top of the actual amount of samples many other things have an influence, such as how “unified” the genetic background for epilepsy is in this breed. If the genes don’t play a major part or there are several genes behind the illness we need a lot more samples than if there was only one gene determining a majority of the illness. If the epilepsy symptoms are very mild or seizures are rare, it might be difficult for the owner to recognise the illness and thus there could be affected dogs among the healthy comparison group. That is another reason why the sample amount should be as high as possible so these aberrations wouldn’t play such an important role in the results.
Finding the gene is a sum of many things, e.g. the amount of samples, the amount of predisposing factors for epilepsy in the breed and the accuracy and reliability of the information related to the dogs in the research. Our goal could be to gather up samples from 80 to 100 dogs with idiopathic epilepsy and continue the research with this material.
Lotta Koskinen, PhD
Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics,
Research Program for Molecular Neurology,
Department of Medical Genetics,
Department of Veterinary Biosciences
Biomedicum Helsinki 1 (room B322b)
P.O. Box 63, 00014 University of Helsinki