Raquel gets up every two hours at night to check if the door of the house is closed, Antonio falls asleep suddenly anywhere anytime, Laura is unable to enter a lift even if you have to climb seven floors by stairs... What do they have in common with the Border Collie and Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher dog breeds?
Well, some researchers began to wonder it and they found out that dog breeds have behavior disorders resembling human neuropsychiatric disorders. Curious isn't it?
Researchers found out the dog are the only natural model of psychiatric disorders! The behavioral problems in dogs are common. According to Nicholas Dodman, 40% of the 77.5 million dogs living in U.S.A. manifest any behavior disorder.
In addition 75% of the genes that are present in humans are also in dogs, and there are millions of dogs to study! But it will be like finding a needle in a haystack, so It is not an easy task, however in the dogs we have a number of advantages, because the dog breeds are very homogeneous, with what if 10,000 individuals are needed in humans to perform a study and control hundreds of thousands of factors, in the case of do it with dogs only would be 200 and 150,000 factors needed to study. It is easier, right? This is fabulous! And consequently, proponents of canine studies suggest that genes of dogs can lead us to knowledge of the involved routes and find some hope for those who suffer from these disorders.
It is reality or is just science fiction?
There is at least one research that attests that studies in dogs may lead us to find answers about human neurobiology. A scientist named Emmanuel Mignot, who works as sleep researcher at the Faculty of medicine of Stanford University had a laborious and happy idea. He grew up during ten years a Doberman Pinscher who had a particularity, were suddenly asleep, suffering from narcolepsy, like some humans. After that time he found that they had a mutation, an alteration in a gene that was linked to a so-called "hypocretin" hormone that has to do with which both we and the dogs can be awake. MIGNOT did not discover the same alteration in humans, but Eureka! the "hypocretin" in people with narcolepsy had disappeared! It had opened a new avenue for the manufacture and development of new drugs for the treatment of insomnia. That finishes so many sleepless nights front Facebook!
There are more studies underway?
Yes, in fact there is one that is European and is very interesting. Is called LUPA and is coordinated by the veterinary medicine of the University of Liège Anne-Sophie Lequarre, which points out that "initial results show that once found a mutation (a disease-related) in dogs, in 90% of cases the same gene is involved in human. Researchers, studying English Cocker and Springer Spaniel, prone to sudden attacks, races hope to identify mutations associated with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other disorders that involve aggression in humans. Isn’t great?!
Is there any difficulty in these studies?
There is a problem and the diagnosis of psychological disorders that we want to study. As an example we can mention schizophrenia, which might be a set of framed disorders under the same label, each case can have a few different genetic and environmental triggers. That is why it is essential to have dogs for trials suffering from exactly the same sickness. As conclusion and closing I would like to quote the words of Elaine Ostrander of the National Institute of research of the human genome of Bethesda:"for 10,000 years the dog has been man's best friend. Now is serving again man by helping us identify genes'. Raquel, Antonio, Laura, and millions of people opens them a better future thanks to the dogs...