Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine recently reported that its Animal Health Diagnostic Center will be the first in the nation to provide a new diagnostic test for Shar-Pei Autoinflammatory Disease (SPAID). The new capability is made possible by a gift from the Chinese Shar-Pei Charitable Trust, which has donated $50,000 toward the purchase of advanced testing equipment.
SPAID is the first spontaneously occurring autoinflammatory disease to be described in animals, according to Cornell. Severe cases are characterized by recurrent symptoms of inflammation: fever; swollen, painful joints; a condition that causes bubbles containing a clear, jellylike substance on the skin; ear problems and kidney failure. Dogs with SPAID may experience one or more of these problems. There is no vaccine or cure for SPAID but, with veterinary assistance, owners can provide their dogs with some relief from the symptoms, Cornell noted.
The test, developed by scientists in the United States and Sweden, uses a droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) to measure the number of copies of the faulty gene in individual Shar-Pei.
Positive test results serve two important purposes, according to Linda Tintle, DVM, a Cornell veterinary college alumna who helped developed the test.
“As a health tool, alerting owners to watch their dogs carefully for signs of SPAID, and as a breeding tool, with the aim of reducing the presence of SPAID in the worldwide Shar-Pei population [by not breeding dogs at high risk for SPAID],” Dr. Tintle said.
The test also may prove useful in studying inflammatory diseases in other animals and humans.
“Cornell’s agreement to join in collaborative research into the syndrome will help us learn more about how to help relieve suffering in these dogs and others with inflammatory diseases,” Tintle said.