Current Research


Important Health Research Info and Contacts

Name of study who to contact what's needed? what to do Fee? ISCA foundation funding matched by Canine Health Foundation
HOD CHIC blood sample-2 EDTA tubes

download form & follow instructions

none if affected by HOD $10,000.  
  CHIC DNA Bank   be sure to include AKC number for sire and dam indicate ISCA on form    
Osteosarcoma Tessa Breen
Tissue or blood samples Tissue or blood samples may be sent to Dr. Matthew Breen, Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough St. Raleigh, NC 27606. Include dog's name and pedigree. Phone in advance to 919-513-1467 and ask to speak to Tessa Breen.   $8,600. yes
Hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, or lymphoma Modiano Lab
Mitzi Lewellen  or 612-626-6890, press Option 1
Tissue or blood samples Samples needed

Info on getting sample kits

  Included in above yes
Gastric Cancer Study Elizabeth McNiel, DVM, PhD
Diplomate ACVIM Oncology
Diplomate ACVR Radiation Oncology

Tufts Medical Center
800 Washington Street #5609 Boston, MA 02111
Phone: 617-636-4715
Fax: 617-636-6205
Based on a search of the Veterinary Medicine Database, Irish Setters have 5 times the risk of other dogs to develop stomach cancer. In general, stomach cancer is quite rare in dogs, so even with an increased risk, it may be that stomach cancer is not very common in Irish setters. Stomach cancer is also very difficult to diagnose since the signs can be very vague and nonspecific and procedures like endoscopy and surgery are expensive. Many cases go undiagnosed.
For more information on a study "Positional cloning of the Gene(s) for gastric cancer in the Chow Chow" undertaken at Michigan State University by Elizabeth McNiel, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM Oncology, Diplomate ACVR Radiation Oncology.
Dr. McNiel has indicated that Irish setter samples would be welcome and would be included in this study

Blood sample submission form
Tissue Sample Submission form


Epilepsy 5-10 cc's from affected dog and littermates download forms and sample instructions. AKC pedigree is needed, forms for litter online      
Von Willebrands Cornell Diagnostic lab    download forms and sample instructions as per Cornell none at this time. Samples stored by Dr. Marjory Brooks  
CHIC DNA Repository CHIC DNA Bank blood sample-2 EDTA tubes download form & follow instructions none, $20 fee waived if indicate ISCA    

AKC CHF Bloat Initiative project

SCA is proud to be a champion sponsor of the AKC CHF Bloat Initiative project. This unique approach will focus on both education and research. To help educate dog owners about bloat, AKC CHF will launch a free webinar in mid-2013 describing possible causes of bloat, susceptible breeds, symptoms, medical intervention, and explanation of research needed.
It is also with great pride that we share the news that S. Gary Brown DVM will assist in screening the initial Letters of Intent that AKC CHF receives from applicants for the bloat grants. A winner of ISCA's prestigious E. Irving Eldredge Award, Gary is a successful board certified surgeon with his own practice Veterinary Orthopedic & Surgery Service in Fremont Ca, as well as a professor for Western University -College of Veterinary Medicine.
For complete information about this exciting project go to:

AKC Canine Health Foundation first Bloat Webinar has been released, featuring Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski. To watch the Bloat Webinar entitled "Bloat: What Every Owner Needs to Know"  click on this link:


Dr. Al Jergens (Iowa State University) and colleagues are seeking dogs suspicious for or recently diagnosed with chronic inflammatory bowel disease to be enrolled into a clinical trial funded by the AKC. In brief, this team is investigating whether probiotic therapy (using VSL #3) is useful in treating these dogs. This is an 8 week clinical trial where IBD dogs receive the probiotic or placebo along with traditional dietary and drug therapy. The animals are re-evaluated at 3 and 8 weeks, with the 8 week re-check involving repeat endoscopy with collection of tissues for reexamination. Costs for the 8 week recheck are covered fully by the grant. Particular breeds at risk for IBD include GSD, Boxers, French bulldogs, Shar-Pei, Yorkshire Terriers, SCWT, and Irish setters.
Please contact Dr. Al Jergens or participating institutions for additional information about patient enrollment.
Participating sites:
Iowa State University Dr. Al Jergens 515-291-5120
Colorado State University Dr. Craig Webb 970-491-2336
Texas A&M University Dr. Audrey Cook 979-845-2351
University of Tennessee Dr. Jennifer Stokes 865-974-8387
Southeast Veterinary Dr. Pedro Armstrong 305-666-4142
Referral Center (Miami)
San Diego Veterinary Dr. Steve Hill 858-875-7500
Specialty Hospital
*The research abstract for this grant can be found here:

Click to read about IBD Grant Update


Two trials are currently enrolling subjects to evaluate an investigational monoclonal antibody to treat dogs with lymphoma.

Conditionally Licensed Monoclonal Antibody +
 Multi-agent Chemotherapy for Dogs with T-Cell Lymphoma (enrolling 48 dogs nationwide). The study is designed to assess the benefit of adding AT-005 to a multi-agent chemotherapy protocol for dogs with intermediate to high grade T-cell lymphoma.

Conditionally Licensed Monoclonal Antibody + 
CCNU Chemotherapy for Dogs with T-Cell Lymphoma (enrolling 60 dogs nationwide). The study is designed to assess the benefit of adding AT-005 to a single-agent CCNU chemotherapy protocol for dogs with intermediate to high grade T-cell lymphoma.

For more information on these 2 trials and locations enrolling study subjects, please visit

Canine Antibody Testing (aka titre testing for vaccine immunity) : Frequently Asked Questions
RD Schultz Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
lick here to read about Canine Antibody Testing (titer testing)
Click here for the Submission form

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
Announcing a New Study on HOD in the Irish setter
Click here for full info on the HOD study and how to submit blood samples

Protocol for treatment of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) in Irish Setters.
HOD is a serious illness affecting puppies, usually between 4-7 months of age. It is characterized by fever, pain, swelling of the joints, lethargy, lack of appetite. If left untreated permanent deformity of the front legs may occur. The
treatment protocol recommended here (click here) has been developed by ISCA member, S. Gary Brown, DVM, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Brown may be contacted at .  It is recommended that the dog's veterinarian be the contact with Dr. Brown for most efficient and timely treatment.


Osteosarcoma Study
Funded by ISCA Foundation

The Health Committee has recommended that ISCA become part of a new study into the genetic causes of certain types of cancer in canines. Osteosarcoma is a major cause of death in large breed dogs, Irish Setters among them. ISCA has participated in the first part of an osteosarcoma study with the Broad Institute at MIT. This study has been able to identify preliminary regions of the canine genome that may influence risk in Rottweilers. This new study will continue this work with two of the foremost cancer researchers in the world, Drs. Matthew Breen and Jaime Modiano.
Tissue or blood samples may be sent to Dr. Matthew Breen, Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough St. Raleigh, NC 27606. Include dog's name and pedigree. Phone in advance to 919-513-1467 and ask to speak to Tessa Breen.
The study is called: Heritable and Sporadic Lesions in Canine Osteosarcoma. The research will use advanced technology to pinpoint specific genes that are associated with breed-dependent risk, using Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and other breeds. Since Irish Setters are already in the Broad study, we feel this is a good opportunity for us to continue this work. The ISCA Foundation has received two large gifts totaling $5,100 which has been contributed to the AKC Canine Health Foundation for this project.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a disease which causes dogs to become blind. This project, which is now complete, was the focus of research for over 25 years. Due to the support and diligence of Irish Setter owners and breeders, scientists were able to discover the mutation on the gene which causes PRA in Irish Setters. A DNA blood test was developed which reveals normal dogs, carriers and affected dogs. Dogs can be tested as soon after birth as it is safe to draw blood. Click here for more info on PRA

Late Onset PRA

There have been recent breaking developments in the UK about a new form of PRA in the Irish setter, a late onset form of PRA rcd4, also referred to as LOPRA. This research has been done by Dr. Cathryn Mellersh and her team at the Animal Health Trust in the UK. Click here for more info on LOPRA.  Dr. Gerald Bell's article on LOPRA - Click here


CLAD (Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency is an inherited condition which is seen in Irish Setters and Irish Red and White Setters. It has been found in England and in Scandinavia, where the original research was done. The carrier rate was about 12% at the time, but through careful breeding it has come down. CLAD is carried as a recessive mutation in which the dog requires two copies of the gene (CD18) in order to be affected. A dog with one normal gene bred to a dog with a mutant gene will be a carrier. If both parents carry the gene the offspring will be affected.
Affected dogs are unable to mount an immune response because the gene controlling the activity of white blood cells in the body cannot function.
The symptoms of CLAD are severe, repeated bacterial infections. Onset may be early, in young puppies. Several puppies in a litter may be affected. They are often small at birth and appear not to thrive. Typical symptoms include gingivitis, skin lesions, dermatitis of the feet, lethargy, lack of appetite and various types of bone deformity. Thickening of the lower jaw develops with pain so that the dog will be reluctant to open its mouth. Anemia is usually present as well as involvement of the lymph nodes.
There is no cure for this disease which grows progressively worse as the dog matures. Most puppies die early or are euthanized before a year.
In the United States we are fortunate not to have identified any affected or carrier Irish Setters in recent years. However, due to the increased rate of international matings through the use of frozen semen, or importation of dogs/bitches, it would be prudent for breeders to act preventively, not reactively.
That is why the Health Committee recommends DNA testing for CLAD at the same time that the test for PRA is performed. It is done using the same blood sample and records are kept at Optigen and reported to CERF and OFA. If you have already tested your dog for PRA, you may test for CLAD alone.

Connie Vanacore, Health Committee Past Chair
Linda Kalmar, DVM, Health Clinic Chair

Additional CLAD Information

Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

ISCA is a member of the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) which is a repository for information about the health clearances for which Irish Setters have been tested.
AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) jointly sponsor the CHIC database. The mission statement of CHIC is to provide a source of health information for owners, breeders and scientists that will assist in breeding healthy dogs.
In order to enter an Irish Setter into the CHIC database, the Health Committee determined that clearance information about hips, eyes and thyroid must be included. Once a dog has been tested for these three conditions it is eligible to be admitted to this data base. For the
exact tests required, and to search for Irish Setters listed with CHIC, consult the CHIC website.

OFA/DNA/CHIC Repository

OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) has established a DNA repository into which individuals may contribute blood samples of the dogs they own. The samples will be stored for use in future research and would be available to researchers interested in specific disease projects.

Online forms are found  on the OFA website:   The forms are available on these webpages:  for the main application, and the health survey, which must accompany the samples is at DNA Bank health survey.pdf

Questions can be answered by Anne Marie Kubacz at  or Jan Ziech at

The Irish Setter Club of America recommends that dogs used for breeding have all available veterinary health clearances. The most often used tests are those that measure eyes (PRA), thyroid levels and hips. Hip X-rays are used to determine the status of a dog’s hips. A veterinarian performs X-rays and the radiographs are usually sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) where a panel of veterinarians grades them. Hips are rated Excellent, Good, Fair or with 4 grades of dysplasia. Another method of evaluating hips is done through PennHip. OFA now recognizes hip evaluations from PennHip.

ISCA Foundation presents Its Latest Educational DVD

ISCA National Health Symposium 2014
Ronald D. Schultz, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ordering info, click here

Health Information for Irish Setters
The Health Committee has published an informative booklet which breeders and owners will find useful in identifying what is normal in growing puppies and older dogs. It describes many conditions which affect our breed. The book costs $3.00 for individual copies and $2.50 for multiples of 10 copies. They are ideal to include in puppy packets. Order Form

Article on Degenerative Myelopathy in Irish Setters, Click here

Any questions about these or any of the other projects undertaken by the Health Committee with the approval of the ISCA Board of Directors, please contact the Chairman,
Anne Marie Kubacz at 732-367-9658
Feb. 2008 Health Committee Report
Dec. 2010 Health Committee Report
Feb. 2011 Health Committee Report
April 2011 Health Committee Report

Epilepsy Research Progress Report
Osteosarcoma Research Progress Report
Cancer Research Progress Report

Report on HOD Research Progress
Report on Osteosarcoma Research Progress

Report on HOD Research Progress (June 2012)  (Dec. 2012)
Report on Hemangiosarcoma Research Progress (Aug. 2012)  August 2013 update

Report on Probiotic VSL# 3 Reduces Enteritis in Dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease  August 2013 update
IBD Grant Update
Report on Urinary Incontinence Research
Report on HOD Research Final Report from Starr Lab
Report on HOD Research - UC Davis Nov. 2015
Report on Novel Virus-Based Anti-Tumor Treatment for Canine Osteosarcoma - Bruce Smith Lab, Auburn
Info on Canine Influenza Virus

Neutering affects golden retriever health risks--UC Davis Vet Med News - Interesting news from UC Davis
Another article on spay / neuter considerations;

Latest Irish Setter Health Study Results
eport from Jean Dodds --ISCA Foundation sponsored Thyroid study June 2014 National
Research Progress Report Summary - Grant 01935-B: Abnormalities in the Stomach's Ability to Contract Predisposes Large-Breed
Dogs to Bloat

Research Progress Report Summary - Grant 01937-B: Evaluating the Complex Genetic Basis of Bloat
Research Progress Report Summary - Grant 01759: Disrupting the Differentiation of Cancer Stem Cells to Prevent the Spread of

Research Progress Report Summary - Grant 02109-MOU: Studying Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) In Irish Setter Dogs
Research Progress Report Summary - Grant 01806: A Novel Virus-Based Anti-Tumor Treatment for Canine Osteosarcoma

Health Chair report for June 2015

Risk Reduction and Management Strategies to Prevent Transmission of Disease at dog shows, sporting events and other canine group settings

Intravenous Topiramate: Pharmacokinetics in Dogs with Naturally Occurring Epilepsy

Safe and Effective Sarcoma Therapy through Bispecific Targeting of EGFR and uPAR | Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

Treatment of Urinary Incontinence with Multipotent Muscle Cells: A Regenerative Medicine Approach to a Common Canine Health Problem

Disrupting the Differentiation of Cancer Stem Cells to Prevent the Spread of Hemangiosarcoma

Innovations in Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Cancer - Goldens Lead the Way

AVMA HOD approves new policy on responsible breeding of companion animals

Grant 02133: Canine Epilepsy: Genetic Variants, Biomarkers, and New Therapies
Grant 02248: Identification of a Novel Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy Gene and Its Underlying Disease Mechanism
Grant 02252: Investigating a Ketogenic Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Supplement for the Treatment of Drug-Resistant Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy and Its Behavioral Comorbidities
Grant 02257: Identification of Genetic Risk Factors for Canine Epilepsy
Grant 01935-B: Abnormalities in the Stomach's Ability to Contract Predisposes Large-Breed Dogs to Bloat
Grant 02131: Neurostimulation: A Groundbreaking New Treatment for Canine Epilepsy
Grant 02233-A: Evaluation of a Novel Technique for Gastric Decompression in Dogs with Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

Feb. 2009 Health Committee Report
Dec. 2010 Health Committee Report

Click here for 2003 Health Survey results. Large file, may download slowly. Adobe Acrobat Reader needed.

Click here for Videos and Podcasts available from the AKC Canine Health Foundation