Leif Andersson on Disease Resistance
  Leif Andersson     Biography    
Recorded: 08 May 2008

It’s a bit difficult. I mean, so but I think it’s a very important area for the future in animal genomics. What it will require is a very close collaboration between scientists and agriculture industry, the breeding industry. Because they keep the animals, they get records on the different diseases. And, so I think that is the challenge for the future, to learn more about the genes controlling disease resistance in domestic animals. So, the study that we are doing at the moment, we are working with chickens also, and in chicken we have three autoimmune disorders which we have pedigrees by we are studying the genes underlying, for instance with the lygel [?], which is an autoimmune disorder with the loss of a pigmentation, which also occurs in humans. Then I also like to mention we have a program on dog genomics, because dogs tend to get the same type of disorders as humans get, they get diabetes, they get epilepsy for instance, and they get cancer. And so we are having large program where we collect dog material and try to indentify the genes causing disorders in dogs.

So cats and dogs is of course – they are both carnivores, so they are genetically related, and so it’s – for us we have more - it’s easier to get access to disease records from dogs. So what is interesting with dogs is that it’s like humans, if a dog becomes sick it comes to the clinic and it gets veterinary treatment. So that is the way we could collect samples from sick dogs.

Yeah, so what I will say is that I think work we are doing is – we would like to use domestic animals to understand basic biology because you have these interesting changes which have occurred during domestication. And then we would like to use the information for applications for a – for instance you could use genetic markers to reduce disease incidents in dogs if you get – identify genes, causing of the disease. But also to learn more of disease pathways, with is relevant also for human medicine.

Leif Andersson is a professor in Functional Genomics at Uppsala University and guest professor in Molecular Animal Genetics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala.

His research group did pioneering work using domestic animals for genetic dissection of monogenic and multifactorial traits. Main research project includes genetic analysis of divergent intercrosses in chicken, horses and pigs. Andersson's group describe the genes and mutations affecting a certain trait and study the mechanism of the genes and regulatory elements affected by the mutations.