Earlier this week a story in Time magazine online reported on a new recruiting effort focused on pet dogs with naturally occurring cancer that offers researchers an opportunity to learn more about cancer in people.
From Time story–
“…If slobbery kisses and adoring tail wags weren’t enough to secure dogs’ reputation as man’s best friend, a new initiative from some creative cancer researchers may do just that. By recruiting pet dogs with naturally occurring cancers into clinical trials, oncologists may be able to develop treatments that could eventually be used effectively in humans as well…”
A paper published this week in the Public Library of Science’s open-access journal PLoS Medicine by researchers at the National Cancer Institute explain how recruiting dogs for cancer research trials offers researchers ways to consider the many similarities in the progression of cancers in humans and canines—similarities that often cannot be recreated in mice in the lab.
Reported in the Time story, the researchers wrote, “Similar environmental, nutrition, age, sex, and reproductive factors lead to tumor development and progression in human and canine cancers. They share similar features such as histologic appearance, tumor genetics, biological behavior, molecular targets, therapeutic response, and unfortunately, acquired resistance, recurrence, and metastasis.”
The National Cancer Institute’s Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium leads the effort and involves 18 different veterinary institutions across the U.S. The Canine Comparative Oncology & Genomics Consortium is responsible for a tissue bank of canine tumors.
Because dogs share the same environment as people and are genetically similar in some respects to people, with their shorter life expectancy they can be bellwethers for various human diseases.
The paper is Open Access and available at http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000161
Canine Comparative Oncology & Genomics Consortium
National Cancer Institute (includes map of vet school partner locations)
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