Australia, December 2011
The Australian National Kennel Council’s (ANKC) Canine Research Foundation has announced research grants awarded for 2012.
The grant money will be utilised to conduct research into:
- Q Fever, a bacterial disease with serious symptoms for dogs and one that can be transmitted to humans, so this research will benefit both species.
- Drug-resistant urinary tract infections in canines.
- Developing a way to specifically target canine tumours, which will pave the way for research beneficial to all species affected by cancerous tumours, including humans.
- The cause of epilepsy in dogs (and therefore new treatments). The first stage of this research has been funded by a university grant, and the CRF grant will fund the second stage of the research.
For more information please see the attached information from the ANKC or contact Bob Maver, a trustee of the foundation, on 03 9857 7651 or email@example.com.
Click here to download the ANKC Grant Application Form
As always please feel free to contact DOGS Victoria at any time for information on any dog-related topics.
The Canine Research Foundation (CRF) is the research vehicle of ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Ltd. It is an independent public charitable trust providing funds for research conducted at Australian universities and directed at improvement of canine health. Funds are generated via a levy on all pedigree puppy registrations, fundraising functions, tax-deductible donations and bequests from the public. The CRF was founded by the Victorian Canine Association (now trading as DOGS Victoria) in 1992 and a total of over 80 research grants have been awarded to date.
A selection of abstracts of past projects is available on the ANKC Ltd website, which demonstrates the quality of research being supported through CRF.
In the assessment of new applications for awarding of research grants, the review process has three stages:
- A review panel of top scientists and veterinarians to assess scientific merit and relevance to canine health.
- A review by members of the ANKC Canine Health Committee for their input on relevance and importance.
- A review by CRF Trustees to:
- ensure projects fit within the Foundation’s Trust Deed and
- award research grants to fit within available financial constraints and recommendations from the above reviews.
In the latest round of applications for research commencing in 2012, ten applications were received and four were awarded grants, with brief details of the successful applications given below.
Research Grants Awarded for Research Commencing in 2012
1. Title: Coxiella burnetii (Q fever): is this an important agent of disease in Australian dogs and reservoir for human infection?
(Dr Katrina Bosward, University of Sydney, $14,050 for 2012)
The aims of the project are to:
- develop a canine specific serological test for detection of antibodies to C. burnetii and compare the relevant methodologies based on cost, ease and accuracy;
- determine the risk factors for dogs and humans.
Q fever is an important bacterial disease of animals and is transmittable to humans (zoonotic). It is considered one of the most common and serious of the zoonotic diseases. Given the ‘flu-like’ symptoms it is likely that the true impact in the community is underestimated. The role of C. burnetii in canine disease has not been clearly established. It is known that infected bitches have delivered dead puppies, with those surviving birth often dying soon after. Infection in humans can result in acute, chronic and subclinical disease, with a role in development of serious and occasionally fatal disease. Humans commonly acquire infection via inhalation of contaminated aerosols either directly from animals or indirectly via dust. A wide range of animals are considered important reservoirs for infection, the most frequently cited being production animals. While C. burnetii can be shed in large numbers in urine, faeces and milk, it is considered that the most potent are from birth products at parturition and milk of infected animals. A national vaccination program was instituted in Australia in 2001 and has successfully targeted workers in the meat and livestock industry; however recent studies have established that the relative importance of non-abattoir contact with livestock, wildlife or feral animals is increasing. There have been community outbreaks of Q fever in which dogs were established as the likely source of infection.
Confirming a diagnosis of Q fever is not straightforward. The researchers have already developed a serological test for feline C. burnetti infection in response to an outbreak in cats, and this line of approach is planned for infection in dogs.
2. Title: Naturally occurring bacteriocins; a novel therapy for the treatment of multi-drug-resistant E.coli urinary tract infections in dogs.
(Dr Justine Gibson, University of Queensland, $12,900 for 2012)
Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTI) are common in dogs, and E.coli is the organism mostly frequently the cause. Many will be simple infections that are easily treated. Due to the rapid rise and spread of the multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of E. coli, in both human and canine UTI, alternatives to conventional antimicrobial therapies are urgently needed. Bacteriocins provide an alternative solution. Bacteriocins are compounds produced by a variety of bacteria to inhibit the growth of closely related bacterial strains; they have a narrow killing spectrum and can be selected to target specific bacteria.
The aim of the project is to use bacteriological techniques to select bacteriocins that inhibit MDR E. coli, then identify the bacteriocin encoding gene. Once the target gene has been identified this can be cloned into a non-pathogenic E. coli for scaled-up production. Future research then will involve a mouse model investigating toxicity and half-life of the bacteriocin, and a bacteriocin protection study in mice with induced UTI prior to trials in a canine model.
3. Title: Characterisation of an antibody directed at Canine Telomerase Reverse Transcription.
(Dr Sam Long, University of Melbourne, $4,515 for both 2012 and 2013)
Cancer represents one of the leading causes of death in older dogs. The spectrum of tumors that have been reported in dogs is remarkably similar to tumors seen in humans. With the development of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, survival times for many tumors have steadily increased, however for some tumors survival is still only weeks or months. Increasing effort has been in developing therapies directed at novel targets, one of which is the enzyme telomerase. Telomeres are the non-coding regions at the ends of all mammalian chromosomes. Telomeres typically shorten with cell division, leading to aging and death of the cells. Telomerase acts to lengthen telomeres or prevent shortening, thus evading the pathways to aging and death of the cancer cells. Up to 90% of cancers in dogs so far examined contain telomerase. Telomerase has a component, telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), which catalyzes the lengthening of telomeres. Thus TERT has been proposed as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for a wide range of malignancies.
Only a few antibodies directed against telomerase have been developed and their specificities are under question. The aim of this project is to develop new antibodies specifically directed at detecting canine TERT to fully evaluate the presence of telomerase activity in canine tumors and to then develop telomerase-targeted therapies.
4. Title: Structural and biochemical pathologies of canine epilepsy.
(Dr Marjorie Milne, University of Melbourne, $5,586 for both 2012 and 2013)
Epilepsy is a common condition amongst dogs. Of canine patients presenting at veterinary surgeries with seizures, approximately 38% are ‘symptomatic’ and have an identifiable cause and 48% are ‘idiopathic’ and have no identifiable cause.
In humans, the neurotransmitter glutamate has been shown to be an important factor in the generation of seizures. Recent work has indicated that humans with epilepsy caused by brain tumours have abnormally high levels of glutamate and increased presence of specific proteins that transport glutamate. Other research has shown that glutamate is transiently elevated in patients with seizures due to idiopathic epilepsy. High levels of glutamate and glutamate transporters were identified in brains of four dogs with familial epilepsy, and were associated with abnormal electrical activity that triggers seizures.
The aim is to investigate whether glutamate levels or the expression of glutamate transporter proteins are increased in patients with seizures as a result of brain tumours. The first stage of the project has been funded by a university grant. This application is to fund the second stage, which involves the characterisation of glutamate activity and transport in patients with both idiopathic and symptomatic epilepsy. Proposed methods are:
(a) using high pressure liquid chromatography to evaluate glutamate levels in tumour tissue and the surrounding brain;
(b) using molecular genetic techniques to study expression of glutamate transporter protein genes in the same tissues.
Mr Bob Maver
Trustee, Canine Research Foundation