Could Shar Pei Wrinkles Help Human Health?

Interesting item in today's news which asks whether humans could benefit from greater understanding of the wrinkles of the Chinese Shar Pei dog breed.

Shar-peis are an ancient Chinese dog breed characterized by two singular traits: thick, wrinkly skin and frequent bouts of fever. Researchers now say that the same gene mutation is responsible for both the wrinkles and the fever.

“All shar-pei dogs have this mutation that causes the wrinkles, but the more copies they have, the higher the risk to have this fever,” said Mia Olsson, a doctoral student at Uppsala University in Sweden who worked on the study. The research appears in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Dogs that carry multiple mutations of the gene seem predisposed to periodic fever, Ms. Olsson and her colleagues reported. Although the fever is short-lived, it can be intense and frequent, and cause inflammation.

With more information, breeders might be able to avoid breeding shar-peis that have duplications of the gene mutation, Ms. Olsson said. The research was conducted with the help of breeders in the United States, Sweden and Spain.

Read in full at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/science/22obdog.html?_r=1&ref=science

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