The goal of this project is to identify autoantibodies that are present in the blood of dogs who are newly diagnosed with Addison’s disease in three breeds: Standard Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, and English Cocker Spaniels. To accomplish these goals, we have been focusing on (1) collecting blood samples from dogs across all three target breeds, and (2) employing methods that allow us to detect these autoantibodies.
In terms of collecting blood samples, during the first two years of this project we have collected all the samples required from Standard Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on increasing the number of newly diagnosed English Cocker Spaniels we have enrolled in the study. We are also continuing to actively recruit newly diagnosed dogs across all three breeds through many online resources.
Over the past year, we have started to use these samples to detect the presence of autoantibodies in newly diagnosed dogs. Given some of our early results, we focused our early efforts on a type of experiment called a Western blot. To date, we have performed over 20 Western blots per breed to test for anti-adrenocortical autoantibodies in all three dog breeds. These results strongly suggest that there are autoantibodies that are consistently present against one of several adrenal proteins in newly diagnosed dogs. This is an exciting finding!
Currently, we are focusing our efforts on narrowing which adrenal protein(s) are the most likely target of these autoantibodies. Once we have done this, we will proceed to the next phase of our work, which is to synthesize the relevant adrenal protein(s) in cell culture and test individual dogs for the presence of anti-adrenocortical autoantibodies. Our work has been impacted by Covid-related lab shutdowns for the past four months. This has delayed our progress; however, our laboratory is now open and we are resuming our efforts as quickly as we can, despite ongoing restrictions on the amount of time we can spend in the lab.