Jacobs Contribute to Important Genetic Research
Jacob sheep breeders, you have reason to be proud: Jacobs are central to new medical research that may lead to new treatments for Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects both animals and humans. The disease, which destroys nerve cells from a buildup of toxins in the body, has no cure and usually kills children before they are 5 years old. As reported in the May 24, 2016, issue of The Washington Post, back in 1998, Jacob breeders Fred and Joan Horak started to seek answers for why their lambs were dying before they reached a year old. Consulting experts at Texas A&M University and elsewhere, the Horaks determined that a genetic disorder was responsible and began selectively breeding sheep to carry the problem gene to assist with further research. In 7 2007, it was determined that diseased Jacobs were afflicted with Tay-Sachs. Researchers then discovered that the disease in the sheep was a near-match to Tay-Sachs found in humans. Now located in Auburn University, the diseased Jacob flock continues to be bred for research purposes. Experimental therapies with diseased Jacobs have extended their life spans from an average of 9 months to more than 14 months. The same therapies used on cats, which can also suffer from the disease, has been even more successful in extending life span. Trials with humans are still years away, but this research featuring Jacob sheep has provided hope for families where none previously existed. The full article is at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-rare-sheep-from-biblicaltimes-may-help-kids-with-a-deadly-genetic-disease/2016/05/23/14a59c9e-d9b3-11e5- 925f-1d10062cc82d_story.html.