Episodic Falling (EF) is a syndrome of muscle stiffness or collapse that occurs in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It has been in evidence in the Cavalier for over forty years and the number of reported cases has shown a dramatic increase over the last few years. The more correct medical terminology to describe the syndrome is that of ‘Paroxysmal Exercise-Induced Dystonia’, and forms part of a group of so-called Movement Disorders recognised in dogs, but the terms Episodic Falling and Hypertonicity have become accepted to describe the condition.
The South and West Wales CKCS Club is supporting the research being carried out into Episodic Falling.
Dr Jacques Penderis BVSc, MVM. PhD, Cert VR, DipECVN, MRCVS, RCVS and European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology is leading the research.
Dr Penderis has, almost single-handed, been researching this condition for a number of years with extremely limited funds. He is now working with Dr Cathryn Mellersh PhD, Head of the Genetic Department at the Animal Health Trust in Cambridge.
Dr Mellersh has managed to secure funds to employ a full time student, Oliver Foreman, to work on three canine neurological disorders at the AHT, one of which will be Episodic Falling in Cavaliers.
Dr Penderis, Dr Mellersh and Mr Foreman will also be working with Professor Robert Harvey (Neuro-science and Genetics) from The School of Pharmacology.
Professor Harvey is working on Hyperkplexia, a human disorder for which he has found new genes that could be related to EF, hence his interest in the CKCS. This is very exciting and could be a major breakthrough.
The initial analysis work and sequencing of the genes will be done at The Animal Health Trust. If the candidate genes proposed by Professor Harvey are involved, the work will continue at his laboratory. If the genes are different then an SNP chip (geonome scan) will be run on 40 dogs, which is all they can afford to do at the moment.
Jacques Penderis and his team have a very good track record and have recently isolated the gene that causes L-2-HGA (L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria), a nuerometabolic disorder in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. They now have a DNA test available for this disorder.
The team have been unable to secure funding for the initial work, which will cost about £2000 or for the SNP chip which will be £6,000 ($12,000). They are hoping that Cavalier clubs, owners and breeders will be able to help with donations or fund raising.
So please consider sending what you can towards the cost of this research, every little helps. We are very lucky to have these top neurologists and geneticists giving their time to this study.
Donations can be sent to Dr Cathryn Mellersh, The Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk. CB8 7UU
Cheques should be made payable to The Animal Health Trust but please include a covering letter stating that the donation is for Episodic Falling in the CKCS research. This will ensure that it is paid into the correct account.
For further information please contact Barbara Reese by emailing
or visit the website www.episodicfalling.com