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Milk Bones and the Dog Genome: Illinois Researchers Digging For Answers

NEW YORK, Oct. 7 (GenomeWeb News) - Building on the newly finished draft of the dog genome, a team at the University of Illinois is conducting a study of the nexus between diet and gene expression in dogs, the University said today.


The researchers, led by Lawrence Schook, a professor of animal sciences and veterinary pathobiology, have described their study in a paper published in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition.


"Genome sequencing allows us to understand health across animals," Schook said in a statement. "Dogs, like humans, get diseases associated with lifestyles. Thus not exercising and over-eating can result in obesity and diabetes. Information about human diseases can be used to treat dogs, and understanding dog diseases can be used to treat humans."


In the study, Schook and colleagues are analyzing gene expression in 384 genes previously associated with immune function and metabolism, in two groups of dogs: one fed a diet of high-quality animal-based ingredients, and another one that is mainly plant-based. They are also dividing up the dogs in age groups, and monitoring the microbes and concentrations of end products in digestion in their study of diet.


The research team, which also includes George Fahey, professor of animal sciences at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and Kelly Swanson, a postdoctoral fellow in animal sciences, hopes to identify diabetes biomarkers, the university said.


This study follows on the heels of the paper published in Science Sept. 26,  in which a group from the Institute for Genomic Research reported 1.5X coverage of the genome from Craig Venter's and Clare Frasier's pet poodle, Shadow.


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