Canine Epilepsy: Genetic Variants, Biomarkers, and New Therapies

United States Australian Shepherd Foundation

Epilepsy is a significant seizure disorder affecting all dog breeds. It is the most common chronic nervous system disorder in dogs, with a prevalence of 0.5% – 5.7%, resulting in approximately 2 million affected dogs in the USA. We have assembled a trans-disciplinary team to attempt to improve the fate of dogs that have epilepsy with a special emphasis on dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy. Dog with drug-resistant epilepsy have frequent seizures even when on 2 or more anti-epileptic drugs. The team includes Veterinarians, Canine Geneticists, Pharmacologists, Human Neurologists, Basic Scientists and Biomedical Engineers from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Institute for Engineering in Medicine, and Departments of Neurology and Surgery, and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. We propose to evaluate traditional DNA genetic markers, blood biomarkers called microRNAs (miRNAs), and potential new drugs for the emergency treatment of seizures in dogs.

In this phase 1 of the Canine Health Foundation Epilepsy initiative, our study goals are;

  1. To identify genetic markers associated with epilepsy in Australian shepherds and Vizslas, and identify markers associated with epileptic dogs that are unresponsive to anti-epileptic drug therapy in order to develop genetic screening tests in phase 2;
  2. To document microRNA levels in the blood of dogs with epilepsy in order to develop potential blood markers that vary between epileptic and non-epileptic dogs, and dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy; and
  3. To perform initial testing of two new potential drugs for the emergency treatment of canine epilepsy.


Dr. Ned E. Patterson, DVM PhD
University of Minnesota
AKC CHF Grant: 02133

Progress Report

End-Year 2: Grant-02133-Canine-Epilepsy-Genetic-EY2-Summary