The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies/The Roslin Institute
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common, debilitating condition of mammalian joints, characterised by the destruction of articular cartilage, resulting in pain and dysfunction of the affected joint. OA is estimated to affect up to 20% of dogs over one year of age in the general dog population.
My research is focused on clinical and laboratory based projects investigating the genetic basis of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats. We aim to identify the key genes which are differentially expressed in tissues from osteoarthritic joints, using a whole genome expression microarray, and how these gene expression changes are related between different tissues. We also hope to identify genomic risk factors for osteoarthritis using both candidate gene and genome-wide association studies of canine osteoarthritis. Our ultimate goal is to identify markers for osteoarthritis which can be used to inform novel breeding and treatment strategies, and which may have relevance in other species.
Pain is a feature of osteoarthritis, which can be extremely difficult to quantify in domestic pets. Part of our research evaluates methods for quantifying pain in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis, and the effects of analgesic (pain relief) intervention on osteoarthritic pain states. In particular, we are looking at the quantifying the mobility of healthy dogs and dogs with osteoarthritis using custom made Global Positioning Satellite collars.
I am in the process of leading a longitudinal cohort study of canine health, the “Dogslife” project. This project is an epidemiological study of the relationship between canine health, activity, environment and their interaction with the host genome unique. It provides a platform for lifelong study of canine health and disease. Pet owners engaged in the project will provide health information by recording aspects of their dog’s health using a web-based interface. The use of this approach will allow an insight into disease-environment interactions, which have thus far been undetermined in dogs.