A collaboration among pet owners, veterinarians, and researchers is leading to new treatments for a rare form of epilepsy — in both humans and dogs.
In a recently published study, researchers announced they had identified the progression of Lafora Disease, a rare form of epilepsy that affects children and dogs. The disease is so rare that, prior to now, scientists did not have a clear understanding of how it progressed. Consequently, the disease frequently went untreated until long after symptoms first appeared.
To better understand Lafora Disease and its signs and progression, researchers collected data from owners of miniature wirehaired dachshunds, a breed with an uncommonly high frequency of Lafora Disease. By learning more about how the disease progressed in dogs, scientists were able to learn more about the disease’s progression in children.
“Due to its rarity, little is known about the onset of this [Lafora Disease] but what we have discovered, with the help of dog owners, is the clinical sign of Lafora helping to lead to quicker diagnosis. The more we learn about Lafora, the better chance we have of treating it effectively.”
— Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Reader, Veterinary Neurology, the University of Surrey
As a result of recent research into Lafora Disease, the number of miniature wirehaired dachshund puppies affected by Lafora Disease has dropped from 55% down to 5%. The most recent findings about the disease’s progression will help doctors to diagnose Lafora-affected children around the world more quickly which will, in turn, allow them to receive more effective treatment.