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Compulsive Dogs Yield Clues to Human OCD, Autism
Date:1/19/2010

Repetitive flank-sucking in Dobermans and hand-washing in humans could share similar DNA, researchers say

TUESDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A study of obsessive-compulsive Dobermans might someday help explain similar repetitive behaviors in humans.

Scientists have identified a region on chromosome 7 in obsessive-compulsive dogs that may correlate to the human version of the psychiatric disorder.

The gene is the same in humans, said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, first author of the study, which appears as a letter to the editor in the January issue of Nature Molecular Psychiatry. In humans it resides on chromosome 18, the same chromosome which holds all of the psychiatric genes identified thus far, he said.

"It's certainly true we have basically the same gene in us, so it's an intriguing lead, but there's a lot more work that has to be done to see if this particular finding is relevant to human health and obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD]," added Dr. Michael Slifer, an assistant professor of human genetics and genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"But even if this particular finding is not directly relevant, it still gives us clues as to the pathways and processes that may be going on in humans as well as some possible targets for intervention and treatment," he added.

And, Slifer cautioned, "This gene probably does not have as robust an effect in humans as it does in dogs because we haven't found it yet in humans [in relation to OCD]. This one would have come out already. But that doesn't mean it might not still be relevant in a small subset [of people with OCD]."

Some 2 to 3 percent of humans suffer from OCD, marked by repetitive thoughts and behaviors, such as repeated hand-washing.

Canine compulsive disorder seems to affect certain breeds, notably bull terriers, which can have a tendency to maniacally chase their tails, and Dobermans, which
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