The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) has announced that findings from a CHF-funded research grant is having a positive effect on both canine and human health. A paper published in the September 16 issue of Genome Research presents the results of research into spontaneously occurring cancer in dogs. These findings can be used in developing new treatments in dogs and ultimately humans. The paper reflects work done by eight U.S. and international institutions of veterinary and human medicine and biomedical research.
“Naturally occurring cancers in dogs, who so closely share our homes and lives, prove to be invaluable targets for study that will advance our understanding of cancer in both species,” CHF Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Diane Brown says. “The findings from these studies will ultimately lead to novel approaches to combating this devastating disease.”
There is a growing body of evidence to substantiate the genetic and prognostic similarities between human and canine cancer. With funding from the CHF, the National Institutes of Health, and others, the researchers successfully defined molecular subtypes of lymphoma, a commonly diagnosed cancer in dogs, from three specific dog breeds in comparison to the same human cancer.
The research paper’s senior author, Dr. Jessica Alföldi of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, says, “Working with the tumor DNA of Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Boxers, we have identified genes with known involvement in human lymphoma and other cancers as well as novel genes that could help in the discovery of much-needed new treatment options for cancer.”
While lymphoma is among the most common cancer in all dogs, the inherent genetic similarities between dogs of the same breed facilitate the study and identification of specific disease-causing mutations and cellular mechanisms. Such findings can then be applied to research into human cancer, thus helping to determine predisposing genetic markers for human disease at the same time. The investigators, working with samples from pet dogs, have capitalized on this scientific fact.
Eminent researcher Dr. Matthew Breen discusses how canine cancer research can have an impact on human health. Listen to the free CHF podcast here. For more on this topic, see "Two Hopeful Canine Cancer Treatments."