Anigen wants to contribute to the improvement of the well-being of animals with the help of genetic screening. For example:
- Identifying the cause of a current problem so it can be treated more effectively.
- Reducing the risk of upcoming diseases.
- Improve the health of future generations.
A lot of very serious health problems are inherited in a very simple way: there is one gene involved in the development of the disease. When we know what the mutations are, we can relatively easy screen for this type of disease. Horses have two versions of each gene: they get one of each of their parents. This means that there are different combinations possible between healthy and harmful mutations.
Genetic diseases can be inherited in two ways:
- Most genetic diseases are inherited from recessive genes.
- The other ones are inherited from dominant genes.
Recessive means that having a harmful mutation isn’t resulting in a sick animal. A carrier is a heterozygote, this means that there isn’t only a sick-making mutation but there is also a healthy variant present. The animal will only get sick if it inherits two copies of the mutation. When two carriers are being paired there is a 25% chance that the offspring is sick, 50% that the offspring is a carrier and a 25% chance that the offspring is homozygote healthy. If you pair a carrier with a non-carrier there is a 50% chance that the offspring is a carrier and a 50% chance that the offspring is homozygote healthy.
A disease can be inherited from dominant genes in two ways:
- Codominant: This will always result in disease, even if the animal has only one harmful mutation. This can lead to non-viable offspring. It’s also possible for a disease to only occur under certain circumstances. For example, Malignant Hyperthermia is a disease that is important to know if it is present in the animal before you start with training your horse or before you put your horse under anesthesia.
- Incomplete dominant: The symptoms of the disease are in correlation with a couple of copies of the harmful mutation that is present. With horses, knowing of the horse is carrying the PSSM1 or HYPP mutation can help with making decisions for the diet or the breeding programme.