Cataracts Study Update 3.10.09

From the researcher: "We now have DNA from 12 dogs that have bilateral cataracts, which is the minimum for getting the research started,
and we have selected 20 unaffected dogs that are all over the age of 5, to act as controls.  At the moment we are extracting the DNA from
these 32 dogs, and quality controlling it, to make sure there is sufficient DNA from each sample and that it is of adequate quality for the next
stage.  If all the samples are adequate then we will be able to move to the next stage and start to genotype those dogs.  

[The research group would like] ... more samples, especially from affected dogs and older unaffected dogs, as the more samples we have the
quicker the project will progress."

We have just a few kits left, but if you know of someone with an affected dog, please contact Donna at immediately
Cataracts Study Update 3.9.09

Click here for Q & A
Cataracts Study Update 2.24.09

We found one more affected dog this morning and are sending out the kit today to that family. This means that we will soon have the minimum
# to start the study. While this is sad news for the dog's owner, it means our study can begin. So, we are grateful that they came forward.
Thank you.

The grant expires on March 1st and they are seeking an extension. We believe this will happen. Please cross all your fingers and toes. While
we now have our minimum, we need more if possible as this is only our minimum. We have very few kits available, so time and resources are
precious. This is a $267,000 gift a member found for us and we pray that time does not run out.

If you have ever considered CERF testing your dog (non-breeding) and have the ability to afford the test, this would be a very good time to do
so. Please go to and click on the CERF clinic button for more information. This is not
just an issue for breeders, but for all our dogs and the international community has come together for this study in amazing ways, so if you can
help, please get your dog CERF tested as soon as possible and let us know the results.

We have already learned some very interesting things from the study and there is an article in the upcoming newsletter with more information
about that.

As an aside, we have one member who has literally "canvassed" everyone she knows with an ISD in her area, driven dogs to CERF tests,
payed for the tests and calls here daily with questions and new information. This kind of commitment to our breed is so very tremendous. It is
because of this persons efforts, that we have several very key dogs in our study. There are some amazing people in this club and I applaud
their efforts to help us stop this disease before it becomes a problem in the breed.

Best regards,

Cataracts Study Update 2.11.09

The salient points of the study are on this page and we invite you to scroll down to follow the study's development. The grant amount is there
with the timeline. The grant ends March 1 but they are looking at another grant and attempting to get an extension.  

Budget isn't a problem since we were able to get in on already funded research, so there is no cost to any ISAA members to have their dog(s)
DNA collected. All results are confidential unless the owner chooses to have the results published.

We are in the DNA collection phase at this point and we are down to our last two dozen DNA kits, so it is imperative that those with dogs
that can best contribute to the development of a cataract test be included.

One fantastic thing is that dogs who have been implicated as possible cataract carriers have the chance to be proven clear as the study may
show the cataracts are caused by a single gene mutation. If that is the case, half of the dogs who have "produced" puppies with cataracts, may
actually be given a clean bill of health. In other words, it means that it is possible in some instances that only one parent is a carrier in order for
a puppy to have the cataract. That's why this study is so incredibly important for our breed.

The ISAA BOD voted to reimburse for the mailing cost so the total cost to participants is zero.

Thanks for your efforts.

Cataracts Study Update 2.06.09

Canine Genetics Progress Report
Breed:    Icelandic Sheepdogs
Condition:    Hereditary Cataract
Report Date:        January 5, 2009
Amount:        $267,447
Start Date:     March 1, 2006, duration 36 months

he above grant is specifically to study Hereditary Cataract (HC) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

Sample collection for project has started well, with samples from 83 Icelandic Sheepdogs being submitted to date.  Of these, 13 samples are
from dogs with a cataract in at least one eye, although four of these are noted by the examining ophthalmologist to be senile cataracts rather
than inherited cataracts.  We therefore have samples from nine dogs that are probably suffering from inherited cataracts.  This number is a
good start but we will need samples from more affected dogs before we can start the active research.  We like to have a minimum of 12
samples from affected dogs, but prefer to have more than this – the more samples we have the quicker we can expect to make useful progress
towards identifying the mutation(s) responsible for HC in this breed.

We also have samples from 41 dogs that have been declared free of cataracts at their last eye examination.  The clear dogs are important for
the study as they act as our controls; we will compare the DNA from the dogs with clear eyes with the DNA from the HC affected dogs to
find important differences.  It is very important, therefore, that the clear dogs really are clear (rather than dogs that are genetically affected but
that haven't developed their cataracts yet) and we therefore would like to emphasize the need for samples from clear dogs that are as old as
possible.  We would encourage owners of older dogs that have received clear eye examinations to consider donating a samples from their dog
– the older the dog was when it was examined the better.  

We would like to thank all owners who have submitted samples and information from their dogs – without either of these we would be unable
to make any progress with this project.
Cataracts Study Update 1.29.09

As of this writing, there have been DNA swab kits from 115 Icelandic sheepdogs worldwide returned to the researcher. We have been out of
DNA swab kits for some time now and are awaiting another shipment. It takes the lab some time to assemble the kits and we have to be
patient waiting for more of them to arrive.

The lab has asked us to focus the next round of DNA collection on two types of dogs: affected and healthy older dogs. We appreciate all of
the breeders who have come forward and volunteered their dogs, but it's possible we won't be able to send kits out for all of them. If we end
up with enough extra kits, we will send to those on the waiting list, but for now will be narrowing the focus, based on the researchers update
and request.

Therefore, we need the DNA from ALL affected dogs out there who have not yet been included in the study (those with cataracts diagnosed
under the age of 5). If you have any dogs who have produced a puppy with juvenile cataracts, please, please, for the health of our wonderful
breed, request a DNA kit. If you own a dog that has been diagnosed with juvenile cataracts, please participate in the study, and encourage the
breeder to send in the DNA from the parents of your dog, as well as all of its siblings.

We also need the DNA from the oldest dogs who have healthy eyes (dogs older than 9 years would be best). Recently an 11 year old
Icelandic sheepdog, Prins, was taken in for his first CERF eye exam to see if his DNA would help the research. We are delighted to find out
that he still has healthy eyes, so his DNA will be as valuable to the study as the dogs with cataracts. We would like to encourage those with the
oldest dogs, whether or not they were altered and never bred, to have a CERF eye exam done, even if this is the first and only CERF they
have, to see if their dog can also contribute those valuable HEALTHY genetics to the study.

If you were sent a kit(s) and have not sent them in, please get them to the lab as soon as possible.

Thank you to those who have taken the time to participate and/or volunteered to participate.
Cataracts Study Update 11.17.08

18 affected ISDs have been volunteered for the project. 5 have been collected and are at the lab. I think it is a given that we will reach our
minimum of 12 affected dogs needed for the study. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered. This is a very exciting day.

The second order of swabs is still on "back order". We'll be sending them out just as soon as possible.

There are currently 5 ISIC countries participating.


First DNA Cataract Study Swabs in U.S.A. 11.02.08

Good morning,

The train has left the station. See attached photographs.

If you have volunteered, you will be hearing from us within the next few weeks. Please dig up your pedigree and eye test(s) as a copy of each
must be included in the paperwork that goes to the lab with the swabs. They want the swabs back a.s.a.p. so we will ask you to mail them out
directly* rather than send them back to us.

Thank you again, LBG for getting us to this point. Now, light your candles, pray, do a dance, cross your fingers; whatever will work. I will be
holding my breath for the next few months.

Warm regards,


*If you wish to be reimbursed for your mailing expenses, please contact me for more information and save your receipt.

Cataracts Study Update 11.1.08

Reimbursements for Cataract Study Mailing Expenses available to members.

Nov 1, 08.  Proposal that was voted on and passed by the board.

Expenses related to mailing swabs for cataract study may be reimbursed to club members when requested and accompanied by receipt. Total
reimbursements for this H&G project shall not exceed $300.00.
Receipts shall be mailed to ISAA treasurer, Judi Vittetoe within two weeks of expenditure.
Cataracts Study Update 10.12.08

On Wednesday, ISAA President, Donna McDermott travels to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the ISIC annual conference on breeding the
ISD. On Friday, 10.24.08, prior to the opening of the conference, a group will travel to ISD homes with dogs affected by cataracts and
relatives of those dogs and take DNA swab samples for the current study of the disease. Following the conference, we will resume the DNA
collection for a second day (10.27.08). This is a very exciting beginning to the second phase of this study.

The International response to this study has been tremendous and the cooperation among countries is to be celebrated. It is our goal to
discover the nexus of the gene so that we can eventually eradicate the disease from our beloved breed. We are moving proactively to insure
that cataracts do not become a major health issue in the ISD.

The U.S. phase of the study will begin when the swab kits arrive in our country. There is a back order of supplies at the lab and this is why we
have experienced a slight delay. However, we expect that delivery within the month and wish to thank all those who have generously
volunteered their dogs for the study. We have focused efforts on the "Iceland list" as they have received the swabs and wish to get underway
immediately. The U.S. list is not yet completed and we are not yet sure if all of those who volunteer will actually be swabbed and studied but
we hope so. Individuals who have volunteered will be contacted when we know exactly who will participate in the study. If you are not yet
signed up to participate in the study and would like to do so, please contact Donna McDermott at We are particularly
interested in affected dogs, siblings of affected dogs and siblings of presumed carriers and/or dogs currently believed to be carriers. We
appreciate your patience and are as excited as you to move forward.

These are exciting times for our breed as we continue to work diligently to insure the continued health of our beloved ISDs. Thank you for
your support and well wishes. If you would like to make a donation towards the expenses incurred or to the General Fund so that we can
seamlessly proceed with these kinds of projects, please send your donation to ISAA Treasurer Judi Vittetoe at 24417 E. Rosewood,
Newman Lake, WA 99025. We thank you in advance for your generous support.

Best regards,

ISAA Board of Directors

Cataracts Study Update 9.14.08

Due to the diligence of one of our members, Laurie Ball Gisch, we have forged a partnership with a research group who specializes in genetic
research on juvenile cataracts in dogs. They have had success with isolating the genetic markers in some breeds, which may be found to be
similar to ours. There is grant funding we have been approved to access to help us offset some significant costs and a major university will be
involved with the research.  

Since the population of Icelandic Sheepdogs who are affected by juvenile cataracts is very small, this will be an international effort. We have
reached out to our ISIC partners to assist our efforts and we are forging links with them. We need a minimum of 12 living dogs affected by
hereditary juvenile cataracts whose owners agree to be a part of this study. We will also need the owners of their relatives and a group of
unaffected dogs and dogs who have no known link to juvenile cataracts to become a part of the study.

The good news is that there is such a small population of affected dogs in this category that we may have trouble reaching this number. If you
own or know of any dog who has been affected by juvenile cataracts (prior to age 5) or has had a litter of puppies in which juvenile cataracts
have occurred, please contact me or encourage them to contact me to become a part of this important study. I promise confidentially if that is
desired. I know it takes fearlessness to step forward and become a part of this study but we believe that becoming a significant contributor to
the effort to eradicate juvenile cataracts in our breed will be a worthy reward.

This is very exciting and we look forward to sharing more as the parameters of the study unfold and we hammer out what steps need to be
taken next. I know you are as anxious as we are to move forward with this study and I look forward to sharing how the research will be done
and how you can help with providing whatever the research group needs to complete its work.

If you would like to contribute financially to this effort, we have established a special fund for Health and Genetics research and checks can be
sent directly to ISAA Treasurer, Judi Vittetoe.

ISAA Treasurer
Judi Vittetoe
24417 E. Rosewood
Newman Lake, WA 99025

Please join me in thanking Jo-Ann Secondino for pioneering this effort and Laurie Ball-Gisch for leading us in this next important step.

Best regards,