GSCA to establish sample bank with the Van Andel Research Institute

After many months of working through the details, a GSCA sample bank/registry has become a reality! GSCA members can now submit and store blood samples of their Gordon Setter to the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). Samples will be held indefinitely for a one time fee of $20. What makes the GSCA sample bank unique is that owners control/own a portion of the sample and can dictate its shipment to and use by other groups doing research.

Once samples are submitted to VARI (click here for the submission form), VARI will set up a unique ID for that sample. At no time will samples be identified by name or any particular dog. Owners will be given the ID number for their dog’s samples and will use that ID in the future to arrange sample transfer for research. The GSCA and VARI will only link each sample with any health conditions associated with that dog (e.g., bloat, squamous cell carcinoma, infertility, dysplasia, etc). For that reason, it is important that the owner complete the sample submission form carefully, listing any and all health problems the dog may have had. “Normal ” samples from young dogs may also be banked, but it is the owner’s responsibility to update the sample profile should any health issue arise during the lifetime of the dog.

Ownership of the actual sample is split between the GSCA, VARI, and the owner (60%, 20%, 20%, respectively). VARI and the GSCA can contribute portions of the sample to research studies that are exploring many of the conditions and diseases known to affect our dogs. Owners can request that samples be sent to institutions outside of VARI for the purposes of studying problems that impacted their dog.

The GSCA is only the second AKC parent club to establish their own sample bank at VARI, which is recognized as one of the leaders in the field of genomic research. The VARI sample bank/registry does not take the place of the CHIC registry and is totally separate. At this time blood samples are preferred as more DNA can be obtained; however, in the future (as technology improves) cheek swabs may become the norm for sample submission. The sample requirements are pretty standard, about 10 mL of blood (split between 2-3 “purple-top ” EDTA Vacutainer(R) tubes; the minimum total acceptable sample is 5 mL, 10 mL is preferred). Samples should be shipped using 2-day delivery using a padded envelope. A complete sample submission form should accompany each set of samples; if samples from more than 1 dog are being shipped, the tubes must be clearly labeled for each dog.

Dr. Roe Froman is the GSCA contact. She is currently active in the area of canine cancer. Dr. Froman can be reached if you have any questions Again, all identifying information will only be available to the staff at VARI and will never be released to the GSCA or any other third party. The GSCA will only be given a list of the known health issues and how many samples are linked to that term.

I hope that this sample bank/registry is just the beginning for the contributions that the GSCA can make to finding causes and cures for many of the problems that affect Gordon Setters. Just as personalized medicine is being used to treat many human disease, genomic analyses are being used to customize treatments for many canine issues. By storing samples indefinitely and providing split sample ownership, it’s a win-win-win situation for VARI, the GSCA, and Gordon Setters and their owners.

Judy Kyle DVM
Chairman, GSCA Health and Genetics Committee

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