Q.1: When you have raised so much money why are you still fundraising?
A. In 2001 there was a meeting at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) where the cost for research into eye conditions affecting Miniature Schnauzers was stated as being as much as £60,000, (£20k per known condition). Those figures did not include costs of the first stage research (Whole Genome Scan; WGS) for each condition which, back in 2001-03, would have been funded by existing AHT grants for specific research projects.
With inflation, that figure is now in excess of £75,000 and the AHT no longer have general research funding, other than for salaries.
So, we now have to fund the additional costs related to materials required for each of the first stages of research. At today’s rates, the amount needed to meet all potential research costs is likely to be a minimum of £90,000 not including future inflation.
Q.2: How much did the first WGS for Congenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHC) cost?
A. £4,560, paid out of JMSEF funds. However, we know the AHT needs to run another WGS for CHC once they have sufficient DNA samples, so we expect to be asked for a further £5,000 – £6,000 for similar expenses.
Q.3: Once the CHC WGS result is conclusive, how much will the 2nd research stage cost?
A. As far as we know, the figure is currently quoted at around £10,000.
Q.4: How much would it then cost to find a DNA test for CHC?
A. This phase could cost up to £2,500 (at 2013 figures), depending on several
factors such as number of samples for validation, how many mutations to test etc.
Q.5: That is only £22,500, so why do we need more money?
A. Hereditary Cataract (HC) is more complex and requires 48 cases plus 48 controls (dogs over 6 years of age a mixture of related & unrelated animals but preferably as old as possible). The WGS alone, for HC could cost as much as £19,200.
Q.6: What about the 2nd and final stages of HC research?
A. The estimate is the same as for CHC (£12,500) but as more samples are involved it will probably be higher.
Q.7: That cost is approximately £31,700; so the total amount is £54,200.00. You still have money left over. What are you going to do with that?
A. As you can see – it’s unlikely to be sufficient to cover even the initial WGS for the 3rd condition (PRA). Whilst the incidence has been small over the last 10 years, we have recently seen 3 cases in the last 18 months. There are also reports of it being a major problem in one European country. With the number of imports, we must remain vigilant and have the funds to initiate research should sufficient DNA samples become available
Q.8: We do not have many cases of affected dogs so why do you need to raise money anyway?
A. In the last 4 years, there have been at least 20 litters screened with 39 CHC affected puppies. In that time nearly 50% of all KC registered Mini litters were NOT screened! So we can assume the problem is at least double the numbers held by the BVA. In the last 2 years we have seen 4 cases of HC; again, reports from overseas suggest much larger numbers, so the breed cannot afford to ignore these problems and must have the funds ready to initiate the research to eradicate the conditions from our lovely breed.
Q.9: That is not a large number considering the number of Miniature Schnauzers.
A. Depends on your point of view! One affected puppy/dog is one too many. We know from speaking to breeders, the heartbreak it brings, especially as unknowingly, these recessive genes are in their lines. They were unfortunate enough to unwittingly use two carrier-status dogs in their breeding. We simply must do everything possible to stop these problems affecting our breed.
For there to be sufficient funds available for the research, a target of £90,000 – £100,000 seems to be the more likely amount needed. However, on a cautionary note, depending on events outside of our control, such as the time required in the setting up of the research and/or a continuing rise in inflation, it could be more!