Sunday, July 1, 2007

Single Gene Determines Dog Size

In a recent article in the journal Science, researchers report the discovery of a genetic sequence that they believe is responsible for determining the size of a dog.

By studying the genetic differences between small and large breeds, researchers found that smaller breeds had a mutation in the sequence next to a gene known as IGF1. The hormone regulated by the IGF1 gene helps determine growth rates of mammals. The mutation found in smaller dogs like Chihuahuas prevents them from growing to be the size of Great Danes.

The study was comprehensive, investigating thousands of dogs comprising more than 140 breeds. Those involved in the study hope that this discovery will lead to advances in cancer treatment, which seeks to control or reverse unrestrained cell growth, as well as many of the nearly 300 diseases that canines and humans have in common.

Source: Healthy Pet Newsletter, a free monthly newsletter.

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