DNA test results are used by breeders around the world to manage and improve the genetic health, inbreeding levels, and physical traits of their pedigrees. Given the importance of these test results to the health of each dog and that of future generations of dogs, Embark updates its platform regularly and continues to innovate with newly determined genetic variants and thus new genetic conditions.
Embark’s customized SNP microarray (or SNP chip), developed in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, contains hundreds of thousands of tiny beads called probes; each probe is individually designed to assess the genotype at a specific locus in the dog’s genome. As new probes are added to the microarray and validated by Embark, the Health Condition Testing Database is updated to reflect these new test offerings. As part of our mission, Embark is continually adding and validating new tests.
Below are a few of Embark’s newest test offerings launched in early Spring 2021:
Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (SBF2/MTRM13)
- Description: A neurologic disorder characterized by a silent or whispery bark and megaesophagus. Affected dogs have dramatic increases in nerve conduction velocities, but do not have generalized weakness.
- Known impacted breed: Miniature Schnauzer
Cardiomyopathy and Juvenile Mortality (YARS2)
- Description: Characterized by multiple different abnormalities, most notably a rapidly degenerative and enlarged heart, puppies at risk for this disease suffer sudden death between 6-8 weeks of age.
- Known impacted breeds/varieties: Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, and Belgian Tervuren
Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (NME5)
- Description: This is a developmental disease that can cause increased susceptibility to respiratory infections and, in male dogs, reduced fertility or infertility.
- Known impacted breed: Alaskan Malamute
Inherited Selected Cobalamin Malabsorption with Proteinuria (CUBN)
- Description: This is a treatable gastrointestinal disease where dogs cannot absorb cobalamin, often causing them to be runty with poor energy levels and may have low red blood cell counts and abnormally slow heart rate. If left untreated, cobalamin deficiency can also cause neurologic effects. Fortunately, this is treatable with regular injections of cobalamin.
- Known impacted breed: Komondor
Neonatal Interstitial Lung Disease (LAMP3)
- Description: This fatal lung disease of young puppies arises from a defect in surfactant, which is essential for lung function.
- Known impacted breed: Airedale Terrier
Hereditary Footpad Hyperkeratosis (DSG1)
- Description: A disorder of skin maturation, this condition can cause especially thick, hardened footpads that are prone to cracking. Pain and infection risk can be managed by using softening creams, soaking footpads, and promptly treating infections.
- Known impacted breed: Rottweiler
Narcolepsy (HCRTR2 Exon 1)
- Description: A neurologic condition characterized by daytime sleepiness and fragmented sleep cycles, affected dogs also exhibit episodes of cataplexy, a sudden complete loss of muscle tone in response to strong positive emotions. Other than their irregular sleep cycles and tendency to collapse when excited, narcoleptic dogs are perfectly normal dogs and enjoy a normal lifespan and quality of life.
- Known impacted breed: Dachshund
New health and trait tests are regularly added to our test capabilities. Embark currently tests for over 200 genetic variants that predispose to disease risk, as well as dozens of physical traits and genetic Coefficient of Inbreeding, providing an all-in-one DNA test with breed-relevant results for nearly all dogs. These results can be used when evaluating breeding pairs and building breeding programs.