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CHF and GRF Collaborative Cancer Grants

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is pleased to be partnering with The Golden Retriever Foundation (GRF) to fund nearly $1.5 million in canine cancer research grants. These grants, detailed below, will have broad impact on all dogs and will also have application to human medicine.

1889-G: Developing Markers to Diagnose and Guide Cancer Treatment in Golden Retrievers Based on Newly Discovered Heritable and Acquired Mutations

Investigators/Institutions: Dr. Jaime F Modiano, VMD, PhD, of University of Minnesota; Dr. Matthew Breen, PhD, North Carolina State University; Dr. Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, PhD, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Total Grant Amount: $1,061,137

Grant Period: June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016

Lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma are major health problems in Golden Retrievers, causing both suffering and premature death. After years of collaboration, Dr. Jaime Modiano (University of Minnesota), Dr. Matthew Breen (North Carolina State University) and Dr. Kerstin Lindblad-Toh (Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard) have made several ground breaking discoveries: 1) they have identified several regions of the genome that contain genetic heritable risk factors for lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma, and 2) they have identified somatic mutations in tumors that occur recurrently in both cancers, some of which are linked to duration of remission when treated with standard of care. These results indicate that a few heritable genetic risk factors account for as much as 50% of the risk for these cancers. These investigators now believe their findings offer the potential to develop strategies for risk assessment in individual dogs, as well as the potential to manage risk across the population as a whole. Further, these inherited risk factors and tumor mutations point to pathways that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma, and thus should inform the development of targeted therapies. Through joint CHF-GRF funding, these investigators will identify precise mutations for the heritable genetic risk factors and will validate markers (mutations) that can be used to determine risk at the heritable loci in a large independent population of Golden Retrievers from the USA and from Europe. Their ultimate goal is to develop robust risk prediction tools, and hopefully, an accompanying DNA test. As has been the case with most genetic-based studies, data are expected to be transferable across all breeds, enabling the future search for cancer risk factors in all dogs to be rapid and focused.

1918-G: Discovery of novel protein, blood, and epigenetic biomarkers of lymphoma risk, classification, and prognosis in Golden Retrievers

Investigators/Institutions: Dr. Jeffery N. Bryan, DVM, MS, PhD, of University of Missouri, Columbia; Dr. Anne Avery, VDM, PhD, Colorado State University; Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles, DVM, Texas A&M University

Total Grant Amount: $404,813

Grant Period: June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016

Lymphoma strikes 1 in 8 Golden Retrievers, making them one of the most commonly affected breeds. Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, in collaboration with Dr. Anne Avery (Colorado State University) and Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles (Texas A&M University), will improve diagnostic, classification, and prognostic ability using state of the art technology to characterize the B cell lymphomas of Golden Retrievers. Through joint CHF/GRF funding, these investigators will identify aberrant epigenetic (DNA methylation) changes in lymphoma cells to develop biomarkers of each class of lymphoma, and in turn, identify new therapy targets for affected Golden Retrievers. More significantly, because DNA methylation changes occur so early in the process of cancer formation, these investigators hypothesize that they could serve as biomarkers of risk, allowing medicine or diet to prevent lymphoma in Golden Retrievers before it develops. Finally, they propose to fully phenotype cancer stem cells in lymphoma by surface markers and DNA methylation changes for the purpose of targeting those cells which feed cancer metastasis. Individually each project advances a current frontier of research. By performing them in parallel, the discoveries made in each project can be combined, correlated, and translated into biomarkers of risk, diagnosis, and prognosis to advance the prevention and management of lymphoma in Golden Retrievers. Based on data from other species these investigators expect epigenetic changes to occur across all breeds and anticipate this study will open the door for a deeper understanding of cancer in all dogs.

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