Norwegian Forest Cat HCM DNA Research Project



Dr Meurs writes to tell us that she and Dr Kittleson will work with us to identify the gene for HCM in the Forest Cat!!!!!!!!  Wonderful News!!!!!!

(Dr Meurs response is in blue, Linda's original post is in black)


Dec 12, 2005


Hi Linda,

Dr. Kittleson forwarded your email to me and has suggested that I share our thoughts on the subject with you. I apologize for not getting back to Colleen, I think the move really set me back for a bit.

Yes, we are certainly very interested in looking at Norwegian Forest Cats. Any study would most likely be broken up into two parts. The first part will be very easy and the second part very hard. The first will to be to collect samples from NFCs with known disease to screen for the same mutation that is present in Maine Coons. This can be done with a buccal swab.

However, as you may know, in people there are 11 different genes that cause HCM and over 200 different mutations so most likely the mutation present in MCs will not be the mutation present in NFCs but it is certainly worth looking at first. If it is not the same mutation, then it means starting all over again to look for a new mutation. This will require much more DNA than we get from the buccal swabs and would be best done by having a veterinarian take a blood sample in some special blood tubes that we send you. Some places put the blood sample in EDTA tubes available at a veterinarian, but we prefer to provide you with the tube and some DNA buffer that protects the DNA better than the EDTA tubes. This is where it becomes expensive and time consuming. Each known gene will be need to be evaluated in the NFC. It might be that the first gene we look at is the one that causes HCM in your breed, this would be great! If not, we will need to tackle the next gene and so on it may cost between $20,000-40,000/gene and take up to a year for every gene to be carefully evaluated. It took us several years to find the MC mutation, but we are a bit farther ahead now and so it should go faster. It will be VERY important though for everyone to understand that these things take time.

So specifically in answer to your

1. Once we have collected funding, would you and/or Dr. Meurs be willing to conduct a DNA study for HCM in the Norwegian Forest Cat? yes

2. What amount of money would be required to begin the research? We could probably start with $5,000, but keep in mind that it takes about $20,000-40,000/year for us to have the technical support and supplies to work on the project fulltime for a year, with $5,000 we can get the DNA samples ready for processing and determine if they have the MC mutation and if not, to start working on other parts of the gene but the more time we can dedicate to the project, the faster we will find something

3. What will you need besides the following to conduct the study:

  a. Buccal swabs

  b. Pedigrees, do they need to certified?

  c. Number of cats and/or cats in a family with HCM

  d. HCM Echo Results

In my mind, the most important things are ≠ 100% accuracy of the affected cats by a veterinary cardiologist and the echo reports. It is crucial that the cats/DNA that we evaluate as affected are truly affected by echo by a veterinary cardiologist. We would need at least 10 definitively affected cats to evaluate for the MC mutation and to start looking at the gene. It would be very nice if we could have the pedigrees with these cats as well.

4. Where can we obtain the Buccal Swabs? Well, I would really prefer to send you tubes for blood samples unless you just want to look for the one known MC mutation

5. Should we or our veterinarians collect the DNA and wait to send when we

have the funding or is if possible to send as it is collected?

6. Where would we send the data and by what means (i.e. FedEx, USPS, UPS?)

Why donít we talk about this, could you call me and I could relay the information to Dr. Kittleson? My phone number is ###-###-#### and I am on Pacific time

Thank you for your interest, I hope to speak with you soon.

Kate Meurs

Norwegian Forest Cat Breeders worldwide are committed to collecting the resources it will take for you and Dr. Meurs to help develop a DNA-based HCM test for our breed in the future, keeping in mind that this research will
benefit all breeds of felines.  We currently have over $5,000 pledged for the research.  We have set up a Yahoo HCM discussion group that has made breeders in the USA and Europe aware of the importance of the research that we are hoping you will conduct.  We are developing a website for HCM information and links. We are currently asking for volunteers internationally to collect donations needed for initial and ongoing research.

We would appreciate your input as to what steps we need to make to start the research and collect the data.  Colleen McGrady has contacted Janet Wolf at Winn Foundation to see if our donations should be directed through the foundation for this study.

Thank you Dr. Kittleson for your time and looking forward to your response,

Linda Stebner


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