As one year closes and we begin a new, I like to take this time to reflect on the accomplishments of Paw Print Genetics (PPG). It still amazes me that in such a short time (PPG was founded in 2012), we have become the most trusted laboratory in the industry. Even if we didn’t do the testing, breeders come to us for advice and help in figuring out the sometimes complex nature of genetic testing results. Perhaps this is because we are so accessible. PPG employs PhD geneticists and licensed veterinarians who are on-staff and in our offices, available by phone for consultation about your breeding program, a particular dog that needs testing, or a specific result. Providing genetic counseling and a helpful ear is so important for assisting breeders in navigating the ever-changing world of canine genetics.
As in previous years, PPG had many accomplishments this year. Only a few are highlighted in the following paragraphs. For me, our biggest accomplishment is how fast we continue to grow and the number of new breeders who tried us for the first time this past year. These new customers are finding us mostly from you – our current customers and your referrals. We are so grateful to all of you who continue to sing our praises and refer your friends and breeder colleagues to us. In addition, many of you have suggested having PPG at your health clinic or dog show event. We went to so many new locations this year, which allowed us to meet new people and help more breeders. Thank you! And keep the suggestions coming. If we can fit in another show, we will be there!
We had two seminal papers published this year. The first was our paper on the SINE insertion into the PMEL gene that causes the merle coat color patterning. This paper was followed by two other publications by other groups that confirmed our findings that the size of the insertion can influence the coat patterning. While each paper had slightly different ‘take-home’ messages, they all were in agreement that this previously underappreciated variation is a large influencer on the variety of merle coat patterns seen in various dog populations. Our high resolution Merle Coat Color test became available this past summer.
Our ground-breaking paper on Standards and Guidelines in Canine Clinical Testing Laboratories is destined to change this industry for the better. PPG, and several other laboratories, already follow these standards. It is our hope that this publication will bring the laboratories together on a common ground of improving quality and accuracy across the industry. Faced with some pushback by those that think these standards are ‘too difficult’, it is important to remember that these are based on the same standards and guidelines that hundreds of human genetic testing laboratories follow. If these standards are what is followed for human testing and their babies, shouldn’t they be followed for our fur-babies too? Paw Print Genetics thinks so and that’s why we have been following these standards since our inception in 2012.
PPG has been developing two new lines of products that will be released in 2019. The first is the CatScan, a genetic screen of more than 70 different diseases and traits for our feline friends. We have received overwhelming support for this product and about 200 samples that we are using to validate this product. You can stay informed about our CatScan launch by joining our My CatScan Community on Facebook. In addition, we are developing our AvianDx line of products, with the first test to be launched, our EarlyBird Sex Identification test for monomorphic birds. In monomorphic species, the males and females look the same and breeders need to know the sex in order to produce chicks. This product has also received much enthusiasm and breeders have submitted samples from exotic birds like parrots, racing pigeons, finches and canaries. We are excited to get this product launched in Spring, 2019.
PPG continues to support open-access testing for everyone. We were sued by Laboklin last year and in court this past spring, the lawsuit against us was dismissed and Laboklin lost their patent to the HNPK gene, allowing everyone access to this important test for Labrador retrievers and related breeds. This case, in addition to a previous lawsuit that we won, cements the Supreme Court’s ruling that naturally occurring substances, like DNA and DNA mutations, and naturally occurring phenomena, such as a DNA mutation causes disease, are not patentable subject matter.
Finally, PPG launched new tests this past year, the most important of which is the cobalamin malabsorption test specific for the Australian shepherd and related breeds. This long anticipated test is important for Aussie breeders and adds to the number of tests that are important to screen in these dogs.
Paw Print Genetics continues to be humbled and excited by the support of our customers. Together, we are improving your breeds and helping you produce the best puppies possible. We continue to listen to your needs and try to implement new tests and breeder tools to enhance your breeding programs. Stay tuned for all the new things coming your way in 2019. If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page Friends who like Paw Print Genetics, a closed and safe page for customers of PPG to ask questions and share their results. And as always, thank YOU for your support and loyalty to PPG and for your commitment to quality testing by choosing Paw Print Genetics.
Wishing you the happiest and healthiest New Year,
Lisa G. Shaffer, PhD, FACMG
CEO, Paw Print Genetics