Scientists are unlocking cat genomes so they can better understand human diseases.

Researchers from the MU College of Veterinary Medicine are looking at genetic causes for diseases common among cats and other animals, including humans. Finding the genetic root of afflictions such as allergies in cats could help researchers find treatments for allergies in humans, the Columbia Missourian reported.

Leslie Lyons, the Gilbreath-McLorn endowed professor of comparative medicine at MU, has led the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative since 2013.

The initiative has been building a database of cat genomes from veterinarians, researchers and cat owners who are curious about their cats’ diseases. Other researchers use the database to look for genetic causes of the health problems.