AKC Canine Health Foundation Funds Cancer Research

Foundation Funds Cancer Research at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH) The AKC...

Foundation Funds Cancer Research at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH)

The AKC Canine Health Foundation has recently approved funding for a grant to map the gene responsible for malignant histiocytosis in the Bernese Mountain Dog. This $200,000 grant has been made to Dr. Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Francis Galibert of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Rennes, France.

This grant was approved by the CHF Board of Directors contingent upon receiving matching funds from clubs and individuals involved with the affected breeds. The level of support has been overwhelming. Bernese Mountain Dog fanciers have contributed nearly $40,000 to support this important research, including funds from the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Northern California. Perhaps most poignant are the contributions made by Joye Neff and her group of "Berner Lovers." An individual who lost one of her first Bernese Mountain Dogs to MH, Ms. Neff has since spent considerable time and energy spreading the word and raising funds to help her beloved breed. In addition to this project, the Berner Lovers have funded research into soft-tissue sarcomas, mast cell tumors and osteosarcoma for contributions that total more than $40,000. Additional sponsorship has come from the Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation and the Golden Retriever Foundation, the French Bulldog Club of America, and the Starlight Fund.

Malignant histiocytosis (MH) is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lungs, spleen, lymph nodes and/or liver. The disease typically progresses rapidly and spreads to additional organs. Currently there is no effective treatment (neither surgery nor chemotherapy are effective) and the disease is usually fatal. Patients initially present with lethargy, anorexia and weight loss. Other clinical signs depend on the organs affected, but can include respiratory difficulty, anemia and central nervous system abnormalities. Lungs are usually the primary location for tumors.

MH is a highly breed-specific cancer, affecting primarily Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers. This particular grant proposes to determine the genetic cause of the disease in Bernese Mountain Dogs, the ultimate goal to develop a genetic screening test and targeted therapies. Additionally, information from this research will be used to develop the same diagnostic and therapeutic tools for other affected breeds; and finally, the proposed research will benefit human health by defining the biology of histiocytic diseases.

For more information on the AKC Canine Health Foundation, please visit akcchf.org.