Spokane Journal of Business

Paw Print develops guidelines for testing dog genetics

Gene-testing company here partners with firm in Austria on project

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A Spokane-based animal genetic testing company, in partnership with Austrian canine testing facility Feragen, has published testing standards and guidelines and a self-assessment checklist for canine genetic testing.

Genetic Veterinary Sciences Inc., which does business as Paw Print Genetics, conducts canine genetic disease testing and analysis at its 7,000-square-foot laboratory and offices at 220 E. Rowan, in the Franklin Medical Center.

Jessica Pieros, a spokeswoman for Paw Print Genetics, says founder and CEO Lisa Shaffer worked with a team of geneticists and veterinarians, as well as Feragen, to create industry standards and guidelines for canine genetic testing practices and procedures. That document was published in the journal Human Genetics.

In March, Shaffer and her team published a self-assessment checklist to supplement the standards and guidelines.

“They spent some more time on that, trying to develop more clarity to be able to provide more explanation as to why they wrote the guidelines,” Pieros says. “All of the standards and guidelines were based off of the current standards for human genetic testing. Their goal is to be able to have all of the genetic laboratories for canine clinical testing to be able to follow these standards. By providing a checklist, they think it can provide a baseline.”

There is currently no regulatory oversight for canine genetic testing laboratories.

“Our goal is to provide the highest quality testing, and we want all labs to be able to provide that,” Pieros says.

Shaffer co-founded Signature Genomic Laboratories LLC, a Spokane biotech company that conducted genetic testing for children with developmental disabilities, in 2003. Waltham, Mass.-based health technology services provider PerkinElmer Inc. acquired Signature Genomic for $90 million in 2010. In 2013, Shaffer co-founded Genetic Veterinary Sciences Inc.

Paw Print Genetics is the arm of the company that provides breed-specific tests, Pieros says. The other division, Canine HealthCheck, provides genetic screening for more than 150 inherited diseases. Pieros says about 50 employees work at Paw Print Genetics. 

Shaffer says Paw Print Genetics is searching for a new, larger location. The company planned to see growth of about 25% in 2018, but Shaffer says Paw Print Genetics grew by about 36% last year. She says the company plans to launch a sex identification product for pet birds and a genetic disorder screening test for purebred and house cats later this year.

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the health care industry. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys travelling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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