The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has announced the launch of a new DNA test for the genetic mutation which causes glaucoma in Border Collies.

According to the AHT, glaucoma affects more than a thousand dogs across the UK. Now Border Collie breeders will be able to use this test to reduce the risk of producing glaucoma-affected puppies, whilst maintaining genetic diversity.

The work that resulted in the new test began at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, where scientists found a variant in a gene called OLFML3 reported to be associated with severe goniodysgenesis and glaucoma in Border Collies.

On reading this research, the AHT’s canine genetics team, which has an ongoing research programme looking at canine glaucoma, began to look at how a DNA test could be offered based on the mutation.

Hattie Wright, Vets4Pets Research Assistant at the AHT, genotyped a large cohort of Border Collies for the mutation, in order to obtain an accurate measure of the association between the mutation and goniodysgenesis and glaucoma in the Border Collie. These dogs all had their eyes examined, and their DNA collected, by veterinary ophthalmologist James Oliver.

The charity’s findings from this validation process replicated the findings of the Roslin Institute, so the AHT has been able to develop and launch a DNA test based on the reported OLFML3 mutation.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust, said: "We’re delighted to offer this test to Border Collie breeders and hope in time, through its use, we can lessen the prevalence of this disease in this lovely breed.

"Our research has found that the mutation is only associated with glaucoma in Border Collies, so we will publish our data at the earliest opportunity, in the hope that other commercial DNA testing providers will not be tempted to make the DNA test available to breeds other than the Border Collie."

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