Olson PN.

Morris Animal Foundation, 45 Inverness Drive East, Englewood, CO 80112, USA. polson@morrisanimalfoundation.org

A high-quality draft genome sequence of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris), together with a dense map of single nucleotide polymorphisms, has been reported. Such new tools offer scientists amazing opportunities to define genetic, nutritional, environmental, and other risk factors for various canine diseases. Because many of the diseases that affect man’s best friend also affect us, understanding a dog’s disease may lead to new preventions and therapies for diseases that affect both dogs and people. Since a dog’s life span is shorter than that for a human, monitoring potential risk factors in a well-controlled population of dogs is possible. Such a population should be one where dogs live in close relationship with their owners. Although longitudinal studies have been previously conducted on animals housed in laboratory environments, the natural environment offers a chance to study dogs in environments shared by their owners. If dogs are carefully monitored, and select exposures defined, considerable information could be collected in a dog’s lifetime–the next 10-20 years. Such information could hold the clues for important discoveries, including causes and cures for cancer.

Theriogenology. 2007 Aug;68(3):378-81. Epub 2007 May 10.