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Cats are not very grateful. Think again.

Leslie Lions is a veterinarian and expert in cat genetics. She is the owner of cats and a general party to cats. He is known for making fun of his colleagues studying dog genetics with the old adage that “cats dominate.” The dog drools. “

Due to the fact that the number of dog breeds provides diversity in terms of genetic disease, and perhaps due to the general prejudice in favor of dogs, research funding and attention to the genetics of cat and dog disease It didn’t apply. But Dr. Lions, a professor at the University of Missouri, says there are many reasons why cats and their illnesses are an irreplaceable model of human illness.She covered the causes of cat science in this week’s article Genetics trends.

“People tend to either love or hate them, and cats are often underestimated by the scientific community,” she writes. However, in a sense, the composition of the cat’s genome is very similar to that of the human genome, and cat genomics does not constitute genes and can help understand vast amounts of poorly understood mammalian DNA. She says.

In the veterinary advances that have benefited humans, she was the first to successfully use remdesivir, an important drug in the fight against Covid, against a cat disease caused by another coronavirus. I pointed out that.

She is the director of the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative and was recently produced by a group of colleagues such as Wes Warren at the University of Missouri and William Murphy at the University of Texas A & M as part of that project. The most detailed genome of cats to date, Beyond the dog’s genome.

“For now,” said Dr. Lions.

Last week I talked to Dr. Lions, Dr. Warren, and Dr. Murphy, who call themselves team cats. Dr. Lions was visiting Texas. She talked with two of her colleagues about why the cat’s genome is important for medical knowledge.

I report on animal science, and over the years, I admitted to team cat members, I seem to have written more about dogs than cats. Dog-cat rivalry in genomics is usually a friendly rivalry, but first a scientist’s unscientific approach to cats and dogs to assess what I’m crazy about. Asked about.

The conversation was edited for length and clarity.

First, their personal taste:

Dr. William Murphy: I have cats and dogs as pets, but I like cats.

Dr. Wes Warren: I am a dog owner. Unfortunately I am allergic to cats.

Dr. Leslie Lions: He has a very expensive dog and continues to have problems.

Why did you decide to write an article promoting the cause of cat science?

Dr. Lions: I’ve always provided really important information if we can understand that our daily pets have the same illness as us and what makes ticks a little better and how the genome is constructed. We have endeavored to make people aware of what we can do.

Do you have a high quality genome for several cats other than domestic cats?

Dr. Lions: We already have half a dozen species of lions and tigers, Asian leopard cats, Geoffroy’s cats, and at this point a really really good genome that is even better than the dog’s genome.

Dr. Murphy: Much more. Until very recently, it was actually of higher quality than the human reference genome. The goal is to create a complete encyclopedia of cat DNA. This gives us a really complete understanding of the genetic basis of all traits in cats.

Dr. Lions: For example, an allergic gene that causes Wess to be allergic. We now fully understand the gene. You can knock it out of a cat to make a more hypoallergenic cat, or at least understand what provokes an immune response better.

How is cat illness a good model of human illness?

Dr. Lions: What we are discovering is that different species have different health problems. We should really choose the right seed.

Dr. Warren: We know that dogs, like us, get cancer more often. Cats rarely get cancer. And that’s a fascinating story of evolution. The cat’s genome has signals and clues to more accurately identify why cats get certain types of cancer and to understand the difference between dogs, cats, and humans.

What about the cats you are studying?

Dr. Lions: Genome research is great because all you need is a blood sample. Therefore, once you have a blood sample, you do not need to experiment with animals. We are actually observing what the animals already have. We are working on an illness that is already there.

How about wild species?

Dr. Murphy: A high quality genome for wild cats helps with survival planning and recovery of wild cat species.

Dr. Lions: Wild cats have half a dozen health problems. There are studies of transitional cell carcinoma in fishing cats, hereditary blindness in black-footed cats, and polycystic kidney disease in Pallas’s cats. Snow leopards have terrible eye problems, probably due to inbreeding at the zoo. Therefore, understanding their genome helps to thwart these problems in zoo populations, which also helps humans in the same state.

What about ancient DNA and cats? Much research has been done on it in dogs. How is it going on with cats?

Dr. Lions: Several groups are moving forward with ancient DNA. I worked on some mummified cats and showed that the mitochondrial DNA types found in mummified cats are more abundant in today’s Egyptian cats than anywhere else. So the Pharaoh’s cat is the current Egyptian cat.

To switch gears: I’ve always been a dog, but I was thinking of keeping a cat. Any tips?

Dr. Lions: Please get two. They will be friends. And hurt them something. If not, it will be your sofa.

Cats are not very grateful. Think again.

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