Irene Espadas Santiuste/ Daniel Sanchez Masian

Lafora disease in the chihuahua breed

October 2017  

Until  April 2018

Lafora disease is a genetic and neurodegenerative disorder that manifests in humans and in dogs. Clinical signs include spontaneous muscle contractions (myoclonic epilepsy, hypnic jerks) and epileptic seizures. The causative genetic mutation has been proven in humans and specific breeds of dogs.

We are looking into recruiting non-affected chihuahua dogs for genetic study. Clients will be offered to participate at presentation of their pets in the study. DNA will be extracted from remnants of blood samples with owner consent.

Dr David Killick, Dr Riccardo Finotello and the Oncology service


Oncology patient sample bank


August 2017

5 years initially

This is a long term project to store residual samples left over after clinical investigations in oncology patients. Samples from clinical patients are vitally important to help us better understand risk factors for development of cancers, how cancers function and what markers they have that indicate behaviour and thus how best to treat them and also how to predict how patients will tolerate treatment. It is helpful to store these samples in advance of a project as particular tumour types can be quite uncommon and so collecting them at the time of a specific project could take several years thus slowing the pace of research. Therefore the results are likely to help future patients, but unfortunately not the patients from which the samples have come. Samples will include blood samples, urine samples, biopsy samples and other tissue fluids depending upon the case. Due to storage limitations it is not possible to store all samples.

Dr Hannah Hodgkiss Geere, Dr Lorenzo Ressel, Dr Martina Piviani and collaborators at the University of Edinburgh

Development of a novel minimally-invasive cell analysis method for determining the cause of cavitary effusions in dogs

June 2016

5 years initially

Some dogs may accumulate fluid in one of the internal body spaces (chest, around the heart, abdomen). The expected outcome and the type of treatment depend on the cause of the fluid accumulation (effusion); cancerous causes are for example treated very differently to infections and different types of cancers may have different evolution and response to therapy. A type of cancer called mesothelioma is very difficult to identify with certainty using the tests currently available. To relief clinical signs in the dogs affected by effusions, the fluid is usually removed and the amount not used for standard diagnostic tests discarded. This study aims to use that spare/leftover fluid and analyse the cells present in it using a novel panel of cell markers (immunohistochemistry) and high magnification imaging of the cells (electron microscopy) to detect and fully identify cancerous cells. Results will likely help clinicians obtain a more accurate diagnosis for these patients and choose the most appropriate therapy.

Rita Goncalves, Dr Gemma Walmsley and the Neurology service

Neurology patient cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample bank


February 2019

5 years initially

This is a long term project to store residual samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF – fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) left over after clinical investigations in dogs presenting to the neurology service and that have this test as part of their normal clinical investigations. Many studies are currently undergoing in human patients with different neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis) through analysis of their CSF samples by metabolomics, the study of small molecules in fluids. In some conditions, markers that help diagnose or provide a more accurate long-term prognosis have been identified and can now be used clinically.

This study aims to use spare/leftover CSF and analyse this fluid through NMR metabolomics and hopes to identify markers that can be used clinically in the future to help diagnosis of different neurological conditions. We hope the results may help clinicians obtain a more accurate diagnosis and possibly predict response to treatment.

Professors Eithne Comerford, Mandy Peffers and Dr. Yalda-Ashraf-Kharaz

Identification of small molecules in the joint fluid of dogs that may be able to identify and prevent knee ligament disease

October 2019

5 years initially

This project will predict risk factors for a common chronic canine musculoskeletal condition (cranial cruciate ligament disease) which enable its early diagnosis in high-risk dogs and direct future therapeutic solutions thereby in improving welfare with chronic disease.

Our previous work has shown that biomarkers including small molecules (small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs)) change in diseased canine cruciate ligaments and joint fluid compared to normal tissues. These biomarkers are measurable indicators of a tissue’s physiological state and could be used in canine cranial cruciate ligament disease as diagnostic targets as well as leading to future therapies for dog breeds at a high risk to cranial cruciate ligament disease.

We will therefore use the surplus knee joint synovial fluid obtained as part of routine clinical investigations from non-clinically affected low and high-risk dog breeds to cranial cruciate ligament disease such as Greyhounds and Labrador Retrievers respectively to help identify these diagnostic markers in this study.

Professors Eithne Comerford, Mandy Peffers and Dr. Yalda-Ashraf-Kharaz

Identification of biomarkers in the knee joint fluid from dogs that could be used of identify meniscal injuries

October 2019

5 years initially

In this study, we will identify specific protein breakdown products (metabolites) from the tissues within the knee which can act as indicators of health and disease (biomarkers) within the joint (synovial) fluid using novel technology. We aim to identify diagnostic biomarkers that could be developed into a cheap and reliable ‘kennel-side’ test avoiding unnecessary surgeries as well as being potential future treatment targets for this condition.

We will collect surplus knee joint fluid from non-clinically affected dogs with cranial cruciate ligament disease or meniscal injuries as part of this study.