• Posted Wednesday November 9, 2016

TGen and Arizona Humane Society forge partnership to improve pet health

First goal is to register 10,000 dogs in TGen’s Valley Fever P.A.W.S. study

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Nov. 9, 2016 - 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 organizations announced today.

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 Human 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 this 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.

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About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. 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. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

About Arizona Humane Society
Every pet deserves a good life. This passionate belief has driven the Arizona Humane Society to serve a critical role in our community for nearly 60 years. We rescue, heal, adopt and advocate for homeless, sick, injured and abused animals. Through collaborative partnerships, affordable community services, emergency rescue and our medical trauma center, we are committed to providing second chances and saving the lives of animals. Follow us on Twitterbecome a fan on Facebooksign-up for our eTails email newsletter, or visit our website.


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