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Cat gene study could help human health

Tuesday January 27th 2015

Pet cats could hold the key to understanding the causes of diseases such as asthma and diabetes in humans, researchers hope.

Their new study involves looking at the genetic make-up of cats and comes after it was found that feline DNA could contain important clues about diseases suffered by both them and people.

The team is based at the University of Missouri in the US and its 99 Lives project is asking cat owners to provide blood or tissue samples from their pets.

Samples are being used to help the scientists study the cats' DNA in an attempt to map out the genomes of different breeds and trace their origins.

They hope that will help them to establish the genetic cause of health problems as well as characteristics such as eye and fur colour.

The research team has already found that both cats and humans are susceptible to polycystic kidney disease, something that triggers kidney failure in both species. It is looking at the cats' genes in a bid to establish whether they play a part in how quickly the disease develops.

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Copyright Press Association 2015