TGen and AHS Partner to Improve Pet Health
First goal is to register 10,000 dogs in TGen’s Valley Fever P.A.W.S. study.
See Arizona Republic Article: How dog drool may help TGen fight valley fever
The Arizona Humane Society (AHS), the state’s largest animal welfare and protection agency, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a world leader in disease research, have forged a partnership to help advance pet health.
The partnership’s initial goal is to sign up as many pet families as possible for a TGen study called Valley Fever P.A.W.S. (Prevention, Awareness, Working for Solutions), which seeks new treatments for dogs with Valley Fever, a dust-born disease that is endemic in the deserts of central and southern Arizona.
“The Arizona Humane Society and our medical teams are thrilled to partner with TGen, whose cutting-edge, diagnostic research has the potential to help both pets and people living with Valley Fever,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, President and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society. “In our commitment to serving the Valley’s ill and injured homeless pets, we strive to find innovative ways to save more pets and advance their quality of life, and we are eager to collaborate with TGen on tackling Valley Fever, starting right here in Arizona.”
Each year, AHS rescues, heals, adopts and advocates for thousands of homeless, injured, abused and abandoned animals.
“Partnering with the Arizona Humane Society, allows TGen to establish a basis for health-related projects to benefit our four-legged friends in search of loving families,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director. “Starting with Valley Fever, this partnership has the potential to not only help our pet companions, but also to translate what we learn about our pets into valuable information that can help humans, as well.”
Through TGen’s Dog and Human Precision Medicine initiative, TGen has worked for nearly a decade to make a substantial contribution to helping the health of our canine friends. Besides Valley Fever, dogs and humans get many of the same diseases, including cancers and neurological disorders, and treatments developed for one could potentially help the other.
Dr. Bridget Barker, TGen Assistant Professor of Pathogen Genomics and head of TGen’s Northern Arizona Center for Valley Fever Research, said, “No animal will ever be harmed by our research. All we need is a sample of their doggie drool.”
TGen plans to examine the DNA from the saliva of many dogs of different breeds, both with and without Valley Fever, Dr. Barker said. TGen scientists hope to discover the molecular underpinnings of Valley Fever and how to produce better treatments for this disease, which infects an estimated 150,000 people, mostly in Arizona, each year.
The initial step in this research is having pet parents register their dogs on TGen’s Valley Fever P.A.W.S. webpage: tgen.org/vfpaws. So far, more than 1,000 dogs have been registered with TGen. Owners of registered dogs could be contacted to provide a saliva sample that would be used in TGen research.
Valley Fever is an infection caused by the microscopic fungus Coccidioides, which lives in desert soils and typically enters the body through the lungs. Nearly 60 percent of infected people — and other mammals, especially dogs — develop no significant symptoms from exposure to Valley Fever.
However, some infected patients develop highly debilitating symptoms, such as cough, fever and fatigue. These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases caused by bacteria or virus, and often lead to delayed diagnoses and inappropriate treatment. Very severe Valley Fever can require lifelong treatment with antifungal drugs.
Register your dog at: tgen.org/vfpaws