We have been afforded an incredible research opportunity by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in the United Kingdom. With funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Dr. Cathryn Mellersh and her AHT research team have identified a genetic mutation responsible for the development of hereditary cataracts in three breeds: the Staffordshire bull terrier, the Boston terrier and the Australian shepherd. Dr. Mellersh has graciously agreed to include Japanese chin in the study.

This is exciting news! If the mutation turns out to be the same one that causes cataracts in the Japanese Chin, carriers for the cataract gene could be identified as puppies by a simple cheek swab. Alternatively, a second mutation could be identified.

If you have access to a chin diagnosed with a cataract, please consider sending DNA via a cheek swab or blood sample to the Animal Health Trust, so that we may see if chin carry the same genetic mutation as the other three identified breeds. It would also be useful, but not absolutely necessary, to have DNA from both parents of the affected chin, if possible.

To participate in the study, please send a cheek swab and the submission form to Dr. Mellersh. Enclose, if you have it, a five-generation pedigree, a copy of the CERF form filled out by an ophthalmologist, or a note from your vet verifying that the chin has a hereditary cataract. If you prefer not to volunteer pedigree information, the sample will still be accepted.

To take a DNA sample by cheek swab, simply take a q-tip-like swab and rub vigorously on the inside of the cheek. The object is to rub some cheek cells off onto the swab. Put the swab into a zip lock bag, mark it with the chin’s name and send it and the submission form to Dr. Cathryn Mellersh, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU.

On the outside of the envelope, those of us from non-European countries should print clearly the following: “Animal Pathogen – importation authorized by license number AHZ/2026A/2004/2 issued under the importation of Animal Pathogens Order 1980”

Send off your samples today, or make an appointment to have your chin screened for cataracts. We could be part of history in the making!

Many thanks,
Your JCCA Health Committee

Questions? Send them to Leanne Bertani

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