NIH Announces New Licensing Opportunity for Genetic Markers for Body Size in Dogs

As detailed in a recent press release, an international team led by researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has identified a genetic variant that is a major contributor to small size in dogs. The findings appear in the April 6, 2007 issue of the journal Science.

To explore the genetic basis for size variation among dogs, the inventors compared the DNA of various small dog breeds to larger dog breeds. They found that that variation in one gene, IGF-1, which codes for the protein hormone insulin-like growth factor 1, is very strongly associated with small stature across all dog breeds studied. An important determinant of body size in mammals, IGF-1 induces cell growth and differentiation and is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis. This discovery may aid in efforts to better understand genetic influences on stature in humans and other mammals.

A United States provisional patent application based on this discovery describes markers and methods for predicting body size in dogs. This technology may be of particular interest to those in the dog breeding industry. To learn more about NIH licensing opportunities for this technology, please contact Tara L. Kirby, Ph.D., at