PRA Study with OptiGen

Berger Picard PRA Study with Optigen


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an umbrella term used to describe a group of inherited dysplastic, dystrophic, or degenerative disease of the retina. PRA can eventually lead to reduced vision and blindness. PRA has been found by exam in the Berger Picards.  Since this is known to be an inherited disease, it is desirable to find the marker for the DNA mutation for the disease. 

OptiGen, of Ithica, New York, is a service company to provide DNA based diagnoses for dogs. The research scientists and veterinarians of Optigen are offering free testing for PRA-affected purebred dogs.  Since the testing is free, the Berger Picard Research Fund (BPRF) will assist in getting as many samples to OptiGen for analysis.  In order to help with the goal of testing as many dogs as possible, the BPRF will reimburse for blood samples costs of affected dogs and first generation relatives that have been approved by OptiGen to be submitted into the testing.

Opportunity Statement

This is an ongoing project that will continue to support OptiGen in order to help them get as many PRA affected samples from Berger Picards as possible to be able to find the DNA marker for the disease in our breed. Potentially, OptiGen may approve for unaffected, but closely related to PRA affected Picards to be part of their study.

Primary Objective

To pay for blood samples to be drawn and sent to OptiGen for analysis.


If the marker can be found by OptiGen, they can then offer the service of DNA testing for the disease and help us to avoid breeding carriers and remove the issue of affected dogs.

Tasks / Milestones

This project will be considered successful when the following tasks or milestones have been achieved.

  • ·Assess OptiGen’s method for approving PRA carriers and method for receiving samples.    
  • Develop a form for reimbursement.
    • Form will be uploaded and available for download from website.
  • Write a protocol for approval of reimbursement based on Optigen’s approval to send a blood sample for the project.

o   Share project and protocol on social media and website.

o   Create a spreadsheet to track submittals and reimbursements for use by the BPRF only.

 Scope and Boundaries

In scope

  • All Berger Picards with PRA in any part of the world.
  • Create a relationship with OptiGen if any breakthroughs are made.
  • Assist owners in getting approval from OptiGen to send in samples.
  • Reimbursement with submitted documentation from owner in the form of check or PayPal

 Not in scope

  • No control or immediate feedback will be given to the BPRF about the PRA project or research OptiGen is doing.
  • Creating an open database of PRA carriers or who sent samples for reimbursement.


·       OptiGen website with information and instructions for their project.

 Project Timeline (estimate)

September 2018: Assessment of OptiGen approval method.

October 2018: Post plan on social media and website

December 2019: Report total number of samples sent and cost.

July 2019: Assess benefit to continue project


Specific deliverables beyond those outlined in the project objectives include:

  • ·       Total number of samples sent to OptiGen via reimbursement numbers.
  • ·       Documentation by December 2019



Lisa Naert, Kerri Murphy, NJ Royer