London: Ringo, a golden retriever, suffers from muscular dystrophy but appears to be immune to its debilitating effects – causing scientists to believe that he may be the key to treating the illness.
Seven years old, Ringo can still walk, jump and run like a youngster but if muscular dystrophy had taken its normal path, it is unlikely that he would even be alive now, reports the Telegraph.
A research team, which is analysing his DNA, believe that if they can pinpoint the protective mechanism then it could lead to a successful treatment for muscular dystrophy in humans.
The disease is caused by the absence of a protein called distrofina that works to keep muscle fibres firm in healthy individuals and results in muscle wasting, progressive paralysis and eventually death.
"If we are capable of curing these animals, then we can also cure boys," said Professor Mayana Zatz, director of the Human Genome Research Centre at USP.
What’s even more puzzling is that Ringo’s four-year-old son, Suflair, which also shares the same genetic defect without any evidence of the disease.
However, other offspring of Ringo`s died within days of being born or went on to develop muscular dystrophy.
Dr Marita Pohlschmidt, Director of Research at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said, "This research is an exciting opportunity to discover whether other factors contribute to the severity of the condition, which may open the door for future treatments for this devastating disease."