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Severe Compulsiveness in Dogs Discovered to Have a Linked Gene

First Posted: Feb 29, 2016 01:18 PM EST

Scientists may have found the gene for severe compulsiveness in dogs. The new finding could help researchers better understand the canine compulsive disorder, and possibly also lead to better therapies for obsessive compulsive disorder in people.

"Dogs naturally suffer complex diseases, including mental disorders that are similar to those in humans," said Nicholas Dodman, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Among those is canine compulsive disorders (CCD), the counterpart to human obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD."

OCD is one of the world's most common neuropsychiatric disorders, affecting about 1 to 3 percent of people. OCD is often characterized by distressing thoughts and repetitive, time-consuming behaviors. In dogs, behaviors include repetitive tail chasing, excessive grooming and flank and blanket sucking.

"Genomic research on human neuropsychiatric disorders can be challenging due to the genetic heterogeneity of disease in humans," said Edward Ginns, one of the researchers. Because of this, looking at dogs is a good alternative.

In this case, the researchers found that the locus most strongly associated with severe CCD was on chromosome 34. The second locus was on chromosome 11, which is the same chromosome that contains a gene thought to increase the risk of schizophrenia in humans. These findings, in particular, could allow researchers to better track down this disease in people.

"If the canine construct is fully accepted by other OCD researchers, this spontaneously-occurring model of the conditions in humans, right down to the biological pathways involved, could help point the way to novel and more effective treatments for such a debilitating condition," said Dodman.

The findings are published in the International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine.

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