PRA Testing

Over thirteen years ago, a much-needed test for Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Labrador Retrievers became available from Optigen.  If a dog inherits two copies of the mutated gene that causes the disease, it will slowly lose its eyesight until it is completely blind. As the test became more widely used, the incidence of PRA could potentially be eliminated.

As the owner of an old Lab that holds  the title of Champion, JH, and CD who was retired at the age of four due to PRA, I have a personal interest in proper testing. My dog Twinkle has spent the majority of her life blind now. I am a believer in genetic testing.

Recently, other companies joined Optigen in offering various DNA tests. Three years ago, Paw Prints Genetics started up, offering a PRA test for Labradors at a lower price. On investigation, I discovered it was not testing for the same mutation. The RPGRIP1 insertion  tested for was not known to be a problem in Labs. This finding concerned me. Breeders unknowingly could utilize this test and with normal results, consider their dog free of PRA.

The good news is that as of March 2016, the test offered by Paw Print Genetics is for the PRCD c.5G>A mutation, the primary disease causing mutation; the test offered has an exclusive sublicense from Optigen. DDC also now offers a test for this mutation. It does not have a sublicense.

So what’s the difference between tests now? Maybe none.  Maybe a lot. Only Optigen meets International standards. That is the highest level of quality. While the other laboratories are capable of performing the PRA test, reliability of results could be a factor. Breeders have to decide for themselves what company to utilize.