AHT Data and DNA Samples Moved to Cambridge

KENNEL CLUB GENETICS CENTRE DATA AND BIOLOGICAL MATERIAL SAVED

Important research assets rescued from Newmarket and moved to Cambridge

The Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust (AHT) have issued a joint statement today (July 28) to advise that, in the wake of this month’s news of the closure of the AHT, the scientific data and biological material including more than 40,000 DNA samples stored at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT’s headquarters in Newmarket have been secured and moved to Cambridge University.

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has funded the Genetics Centre since 2009. Led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, the Centre aimed to develop, where possible, simple mouth swab screening tests to determine affected and carrier dogs. In deciding which diseases to investigate, the joint Kennel Club and AHT team was looking at the impact on the health and welfare of dogs, but also on the support of breeders and access to data and samples.

Bill King, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “The Kennel Club and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust have long supported and worked together with the AHT to improve dog health, so it is a very positive development that the Kennel Club’s considerable investment in this area has been saved in spite of a few weeks of uncertainty. Our thanks go to Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge Vet School, for all his help and assistance in securing the safekeeping of the samples. Future developments will be announced in due course.”

Dr Cathryn Mellersh added: “The Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT was founded to accelerate research into inherited canine disease. Since the Genetics Centre was founded in 2009, by collaborating closely with dog breeders and veterinary surgeons we have developed DNA tests for 22 different inherited diseases which benefit around 50 different breeds of dog. 

“We know that breeders make good use of DNA tests to reduce the frequency of these mutations and thus improve the genetic health of countless dogs. There is no reason why this ethos should change now that the information is stored in Cambridge and the Kennel Club Genetics Centre staff are relieved and grateful that all this information and resources have been saved. I would like to personally thank the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their long standing support of this research and Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge Vet School, for all his assistance in safeguarding our resources.”

Further information regarding the Kennel Club’s extensive work in the field of canine health and research can be found on the Kennel Club website at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health

The work of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket has been led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, pictured outside the Centre. In the wake of this month’s news of the closure of the AHT, the scientific data and biological material including more than 40,000 DNA samples stored at the Genetics Centre have been secured and moved to Cambridge University. Photo by Heidi Hudson / The Kennel Club

Scientific work being carried out at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket where, since 2009, DNA tests for 22 different inherited diseases have been developed which benefit around 50 different breeds of dog. Photo by Heidi Hudson / The Kennel Club

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