The Collie Health Foundation has had an extraordinarily long and strong working relationship with OptiGen Labs.  After OptiGen was purchased by Wisdom Health, a division of MARS, I was extremely worried.  I was able to talk with Sue Pearce Kelling not to long after the announcement was made, Sue set up a time where I could ask some in-depth questions.  During this initial call I mentioned how hesitant I was on the quality of panel tests and on the labs that ran them.  Sue asked if I would give her some time to put a call together with the Veterinarian in charge at Wisdom Health.   This would give me an opportunity to pose some of my questions to her.  I figured I had nothing to lose.  First, Sue calmed me down about what would happen with the samples and the proprietary testing that was being done at OptiGen and would soon move to Wisdom Health.

The Collie Health Foundation is working with Wisdom Health because:

  • Wisdom Health has been in business for years in Europe under the My Dog DNA name and was already a well-respected commercial lab. When they entered the US market, they did it the right way by acquiring rights or licenses of patented health tests or by buying the labs who discovered these tests.
  • MDR1- Wisdom Health contacted Washington State University VCPL and purchased a license for their patent to be able to run MDR1 testing on their panel test. WS then worked on many samples until results were right 100% of the time before the added it to their panel test.
  • Because OptiGen was already running the Dermatomyositis Risk Assessment Test (DMS), it seemed natural that our relationship would continue with Wisdom Health. Wisdom Health bought a traditional lab in the United States and is having all the testing that requires gene sequencing run there.  They worked diligently with OptiGen to make sure every test result was 100% before they offered the testing to the public.
  • All samples were moved from OptiGen to Wisdom Health and are available as needed. Some of these were owned by individuals and others by OptiGen and Cornell.
  • Wisdom Health has been willing to give our members discounts, and around the time of our National Specialty Show, larger discounts for testing to help the Collie breed.
  • Wisdom Health partners with the International Partnership for Dogs, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Morris Animal Foundation, Waltham, the Washington State University, the International Society for Animal Genetics and the University of Helsinki.

Why is this important? 

Harmonization of genetic testing is the only way you, the consumer, will be able to compare one lab to another.   How do you know a test result is accurate from another lab that didn’t develop the test and didn’t work with the developer?  If they didn’t pay for licensing to run that genetic health test or work with the lab that holds the patent, could the results be wrong?  Why not work with a stand-up organization like Wisdom Health strives to be?  Being recognized by OFA and believed to be one of the better labs in the US should matter to all of us.

Will they make mistakes, of course.  It is how they handle them that matters.  Is Wisdom Health a commercial lab, yes.  They are there to make money for their company.  Will they work with our researchers, YES!  Bottom line is they have agreed to work with the members of the Collie Health Foundation and make testing more financially reasonable when possible.

Remember, you get what you pay for and all labs are not created equal.  It may take a few generations for you to find out a genetic test result you received from ABC lab was wrong, but what happens then?  Genetic Health Testing is a new frontier and there is plenty of money to be made in it.  The Collie Health Foundation has chosen to work with Wisdom Health after in-depth research.  If you choose to go elsewhere that’s your right.  If you have an issue with Wisdom Health that cannot be resolved, then reach out to one of our Board members, or come to me.  No lab will be perfect without issues or mistakes.  We will do our best to help you because in the end it helps the Collie.

Note: COVID-19 – Keep in mind that Wisdom Health is still on limited staffing because of COVID-19.  With the DMS and rcd2 PRA testing, swabs are hand batched and sent to be tested once a week so please be patient.  This is the new “Normal” for now.

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