Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Quick! Break out the Emergency Genetic Test Kit!

Fido's got a new disease.

"Immune-Mediated Retinopathy, or IMR, causes loss of function in retinal cells and, in some cases, blindness in canines."

IMR is very similar to a previously known malady called Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome or SARDS.

Both diseases occur when the dog produces auto antibodies that attack the retinal cells. The antibodies mistake retinal cells for cancerous tumors or tissues that need to be destroyed.

In the process of attacking the retinal cells, the auto antibodies cause the retinal cells to lose function and the dog to lose some or all of its vision.

The difference between IMR and SARDS that Grozdanic identified is that the auto antibodies that attack the retinal cells in SARDS patients are produced in the eye. In the newly identified IMR, Grozdanic found that these auto antibodies are produced elsewhere in the dog and travel to the eyes in the blood.

So this is an(other) auto-immune disorder, where the body's immune system goes haywire and attacks itself. Funny there was an article just the other day about how these disorders are on the rise in humans.

Immune Systems Increasingly On Attack

Though the data are stronger for some diseases than others, and part of the increase may reflect better diagnoses, experts estimate that many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades, depending on the ailment and country. Some studies now indicate that more than half of the U.S. population has at least one allergy.

Anecdotal reports say this seems to be the case for dogs too. And why not? Too many puppies and kittens are born into sterile environments, wormed from birth and weaned onto rice cereals... And then there is the unnatural high carb, grain laden diets they eat until the day the die. And the vaccines.

I could go on and on. So many causes. Will it suffer the same old cull`n`cure?

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