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A Golden Retriever Named Trevor and Retinitis Pigmentosa

Posted Apr 06 2011 11:30am
Trevor

Almost every day, I check on  who is looking at my online Journal, where the referrals came from, and what articles are being read most frequently. (I can do this because I use Sitemeter as a visitor counter and for viewer statistics.)

Recently, I encountered a unique referral source, goldenretrevor/pra-research. This piqued my curiosity and I went to the site and took a look. It turns out that the site is run by the owner of three Golden Retrievers, one of whom is Trevor. It seems that Trevor had been diagnosed with photo receptor cone disease (prcd), associated with progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This was discovered when the dog was a puppy and the owner decided to look into this disease to see if there was anything that could be done to prevent him from going blind.

In doing extensive research, the owner, Katie McCormick, discovered that there was little research being done in the field of PRA in animals, but that PRA is genetically similar to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in humans, as one study noted, "Identical mutation in a novel retinal gene causes progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd) in dogs, and retinitis pigmentosa in man." And, there was lots of research being done on RP.
As she put it, “Because of this genetic connection, dogs are being used as proxies to study human retinal degeneration, and to test possible therapies. So that is the ultimate irony – whereas "no one cares about treating PRA" since the best way to eliminate it is through selective breeding, finding an effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa is huge. And dogs are right in the middle of it.”
She continued, “My research about RP convinced me that even though PRA and RP are diseases of programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis), there were ways to delay the onset (update 8-19-09: see the conclusion in this article for a discussion of how photoreceptor cell death is different from classic apoptosis). But as always, the devil is in the details.”
“Should dog owners mimic what human RP patients do to delay onset? The answer turns out to be no, not necessarily. Contact me personally if you want more background on this.”
In her blog entry on PRA Research, Katie describes how she set up a “Google Alert” using the terms “progressive retinal atrophy” and “retinitis pigmentosa” – which is how she found my Journal article on The Use of Gene Therapy in Treating RP and Dry AMD.
In any event, I thought you might find this interesting. To read more about Trevor, his accomplishments, and how he is progressing with his PRA, take a look at Katie’s blogs about him by following these links: “ Welcome to Trevor's Website! “, and “ PRA Research ”. Katie can be reached at Katie McCormick
Postscript:
Trevor had his annual eye exam at the end of November 2010, on the eve of his 4th birthday. Katie is happy to report that his eye vet said that his eyes still look perfectly normal


Katie and Trevor
A Blue Ribbon Winner

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