Dog gene for OCD could aid humans

Jan. 4, 2010 at 1:19 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Discovery of a gene linked to compulsive behavior in dogs could lead to better understanding of the disorder in humans, scientists in Massachusetts said.

Scientists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge studied the DNA of 92 Doberman pinschers that displayed compulsive behavior and found a common link in a gene called Cadherin 2, The Boston Globe reported Monday, noting Cadherin 2 recently was linked to autism in humans.

The dog findings will be used to study the Cadherin 2 gene in more than 300 people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, and about 400 of their relatives, said Dr. Dennis Murphy, a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Identifying a specific gene that could be a candidate gene for a complex disorder like OCD is a gift to have,'' Murphy said. "This might be a quick route in to a meaningful gene that just could be involved in the human disorder, as well.''

Dogs with OCD obsessively chase their tails, lick their legs and pace and circle in behavior similar to that of people with OCD, who obsessively wash their hands, count numbers or repeatedly check objects. Murphy said.

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