Recent Progress in Molecular Genetics of Cancer and Challenges Ahead

Presenation by Jaime F. Modiano, VMD, PhD, Director, Animal Cancer Care and Research Program, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine at the 2011 National Parent Club Canine Health Conference hosted by the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

Presentation Abstract: The last decade has seen dramatic improvements in molecular genetic research of canine cancer. This includes new and improved diagnostic tests and approval of the first immune-based cancer therapy (ONCEPT, Merial canine melanoma vaccine) and the first targeted small molecule inhibitor (Palladia, Pfizer c-Kit inhibitor for treatment of mast cell tumors). There also has been significant progress defining breed-associated cancer susceptibility. Our efforts have focused on defining the role that “breed” plays not only on the frequency of tumor occurrence, but also on tumor behavior. At the same time, we have dedicated considerable effort to understand the mechanisms that drive tumor behavior as a means to improve our diagnostic precision, our prognostic capacity, and the development of new therapies. To help achieve these goals, AKC CHF has supported eight research projects in our laboratory since 1998. These projects have allowed us to build a sample bank that has been used extensively by the research community worldwide (more than 40 investigators at more than 30 companies, universities, and research institutes in seven countries and four continents). The projects also have formed a robust foundation for clinical translation, verifying the notion that oftentimes tumors are as unique as patients and we must beware of generalizations and oversimplification. This presentation will underscore the differences that exist within tumors and among dog breeds, and illustrate how we have started to overcome these challenges to achieve our clinical goals.

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