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I had the honour to be invited to give a talk at the annual American Veterinary Medical Association conference in Washington, DC on 04 August 2019. I was asked to speak on the One Health aspects of genetic testing. Many of you will have heard of One Health. The human medical establishment started to coin this phrase in the early 2000's to indicate an approach to health that considered humans, animals an the environment. As a veterinarian and an epidemiologist I can tell you that we had that figured out a long time before, but as it was also put forward by Hippocrates, I don't suppose we will worry about who came first! For more info see this article by One Health Sweden... and their image. I specify how genetic testing fits under that umbrella. It actually is a bit of a no-brainer isn't it? Everything we do with dogs is tied up with people and so many conditions of concern are affected by where and how we live, in the broadest sense. When we talk about genetic testing, both from the science to the commercialization and application there are so many points of intersection between the human and pet world. As you will see in my talk, attached below, the impacts can't be ignored if we are to successfully navigate the world of genetic testing. For us and for our pets! Although many of the issues raised are a cause for concern and increase our awareness of significant challenges, we should always keep in mind that there are a host of potential and even remarkable benefits to be realized from genetic testing. However, with Direct-To-Consumer marketing, the popularization of genetic testing, and the many challenges raised on the spectrum from discovery to application we all need the information and tools to make the best decisions. These issues were also raised, discussed at the 4th IDHW and working groups are moving ahead to address them. IPFD has the Harmonization of Genetic Testing already available and we are working on further developments like the Expert Panel and the Health Strategies Database for Dogs, as well as breed specific tools to help owners, breeders, advisors, researchers, veterinarians - really all stakeholders in the crazy-wonderful world of genetic and genomic testing. [[link to Aimee's article]] Warning - the complexities of genetic testing are not going to go away in the near future! Let's continue to work together for the health, well-being and welfare of our animal companions and the humans who wouldn't want to live without them. One Health! BONNETT - Genetic Testing The Big Picture_AVMA talk August 2019.pdf
Posted originally 26 July 2018; UPDATED 30 July 2018 Congratulations to the authors (Lisa Moses, Steve Niemi and Elinor Karlsson) for their commentary in Nature (and pdf, below). In “Pet genomics medicine runs wild” these authors have done a great job describing the myriad challenges related to genetic testing in pets. In fact, their concerns reflect those underpinning the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) initiative - the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD). The IPFD, together with an impressive team of Partners and Collaborators (national kennel clubs, animal industries, veterinary, academic, welfare and other organizations) and our Leadership Sponsor Genetic Test Providers (GTPs), is providing a practical and effective tool to support consumers, veterinarians and researchers. However, as we face these challenges, it is important to not lose sight of the phenomenal potential for genetic testing to support health, well-being and welfare in dogs, as well as aspects of human-dog interactions. Although the authors of the commentary justifiably call for this segment to have some controls, at the moment, there is no regulatory body that has the authority to impose standards on this burgeoning and unregulated industry - especially not on an international basis or in a timely fashion. Rather than waiting for consensus on controls, the IPFD (an independent, non-profit, registered in Sweden), together with our Partners, Collaborators and experts, as well as concerned GTPs, has created a platform that will provide the foundation to address many of the concerns raised in the Nature article.
The great juggling act...Ask any long time dog breeder and they'll tell you, exploring the subject of dog breeding and looking at how to define 'best practices' that lead to production of healthy, functional dogs is getting more complicated by the day! A COMPLEX BALANCE: What are You Measuring? How do you define and verify successes or failures? Health status (current or long-term) is but one part of a breeder's evaluation of a dog's suitability for breeding. Assessing a dog's health and any other quality or characteristic goes hand-in-hand with the breeder's goals and reasons for breeding/keeping dogs. A breeder's evaluation of the dog's conformation/structure, breed type, temperament, personality, working ability and serviceability is combined with health considerations at the time of breeding and beyond. Juggling all the different 'balls' of whether a dog is to to be included or excluded from a breeding program, a pairing is likely to produce quality offspring or developing a workable breeding strategy for an entire breed is an extremely difficult task. Screening for hips, elbows, heart and eye examinations by veterinarians, expert evaluators, and a myriad of schemes developed to govern those types of non-dna evaluations have long been considered by health-conscious breeders as essential components of quality breeding programs. Enter the explosion of research on DNA and the dog genome - scientists are in the process of examining the genetic components of everything - health conditions and diseases, predispositions to manifest diseases, physical characteristics, longevity, genetic diversity, behaviours - in people, dogs and other species. DNA tests and direct to consumer sales of DNA tests has opened up a whole new world of 'evaluation tools' for dog breeders. Understanding genetic testing and applying results of tests to breeding decisions and management of individual dogs and breeds is clearly no simple matter. The science is relatively new - but its effects are already widespread - for the better in some cases - but challenges exist. For insights... Check out Finnish Kennel club Breeding Experts, Taina Nygård and Katariina Mäki's writeup, Gene tests for consumer advice