Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The results from the Genome Wide Association Study

This morning the results from the GWAS arrived in the inbox of the Connemara Pony Research Group; much earlier than was expected.  The reason they came in early is because there is no questioning the results. There is no doubt that the DNA of affected ponies and their close relations (parents, full or half siblings) is very different from both  the 'control' Connemara ponies and the Horse Genome Map.

This area of difference is call a 'candidate region'.  The candidate region which has been determined by the GWAS is in the area where the genes for keratin metabolism have been mapped.

Keratin metabolism controls how hoof, hair and horn grows in all mammals.

We now know definitely that there is something different happening in the genes of  HWSS affected ponies.   The area where this difference occurs supports the working hypothesis for HWSS.

Where to now?

The next stage requires the candidate region of all the 'positive' ponies in the GWAS to be investigated at a more refined level.  We now know where to look and now need to look much more closely to find out what is actually happening in the genes in the candidate region.
To conduct this research, of course requires more funding.  The Centre for Equine Health already holds the balance of the donated funds, not used to pay for the initial GWAS.
With this money already in-hand, the next stage of the research requires another US$8000.    The research group and the Bannasch Laboratory are hopeful that people will support this next stage of the research by making donations to pay for the sequencing of  the candidate genes.

You can make your donations here http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ceh/give_online.cfm

Bannasch Laboratory also wishes to let pony owners worldwide know that they now want more samples from HWSS affected ponies and control ponies.  The first point of contact for pony owners who wish to become actively involved in this research by submitting blood samples to the laboratory is the Connemara Pony Research Group       connemara.pony.research.group@gmail.com