Despite the fact that the mouse genome is disorderly, atypical and little like that of other mammals, its meticulous study has served to understand how they age or their susceptibility to cancer, findings that have great implications for humans. If we have achieved all that with mice, what if we were looking for an animal that harbors a genome that looks and behaves more like humans?
That is what genetic experts from the University of Missouri propose, who argue that, apart from primates, cat-human genomic equivalence is one of the closest that can be achieved, and they are starting a fertile but still marginal research field .
One of more of the family
The researchers are extracting DNA fragments from the cells of the cats ‘cheeks, using tiny wire brushes that rotate in the animals’ mouths to cause minimal discomfort . This interest in their genome is particularly convenient considering that, in addition to genetic architecture, cats share our homes, our diets, our behaviors, many of our microscopic pests, and some of the chronic diseases, including diabetes and health problems. cardiac.
In other words, if we could start to find out why those things happen in some cats but not others, maybe humans and felines could share some of those findings for mutual health benefits as well .
At the moment, feline genomes are being mapped. Cats cannot tell us when they are sick, but a study of feline genomics could pave the way for precision medicine in cats, thanks to which veterinarians can the genetic risk of different diseases in order to intervene as soon as possible, such and as we already do in some fields of human health.
Because humans and cats suffer from some of the same diseases, identifying their genetic markers could be good for us too. Cats can develop, for example, a neurological disorder similar to Tay-Sachs disease, a disease that kills children, and gene therapy seems to work wonders against the disease in cats , so it only remains to adapt a treatment for its analogues in children .
Cats can also allow us to better read our own genome. We already know that the shape and structure of a genome, and the arrangement of genes within it, purposely influence how content is expressed. If the genes of cats are organized like ours, perhaps they are also regulated like ours .
Mice are easy and cheap to breed and house in laboratories, and they have already had a huge advantage in scientific research. Cats are unlikely to outgrow them. Maybe they do outnumber peoples, because although they are especially predisposed to working with humans (cats tend to be more surly and reserved), dog breeds have been so genetically isolated that their populations are not diverse , so they are not such a good model for humans.
Be that as it may, studying cats will probably provide us with knowledge that we can hardly obtain otherwise. And that knowledge will not only improve human health, but also cat health, something that will bring joy to those who consider cats as one more member of the family :