Cancer in Dogs Helps to Inform Human Disease

09/18/2015

In a paper published on September 16, 2015 in Genome Research by Elvers et al, a collaboration between eight US and international institutions of veterinary and human medicine and biomedical research, the benefits of One Health become clear.

With funds provided by the NIH, the AKC Canine Health Foundation and others, the researchers successfully defined molecular subtypes of lymphoma, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in dogs, from three specific dog breeds in comparison to the same human cancer. According to senior author Dr. Jessica Alfoldi of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, “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.”

There is a growing body of evidence to substantiate the genetic and prognostic similarities between human and canine cancer. “Naturally occurring cancers in dogs, who so closely share our homes and lives, are proving to be invaluable targets of study that will advance our understanding of cancer in both species,” says Dr. Diane Brown, Chief Scientific Officer for the AKC Canine Health Foundation, one of the organizations to provide funding for this work.

She goes on to say, “The findings from these studies will ultimately lead to novel approaches to combating this devastating disease.” While lymphoma is the most common cancer in all dogs, the inherent genetic similarities between dogs of the same breed facilitate the study and identification of 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.

Publication:

Exome Sequencing of Lymphomas From Three Dog Breeds Reveals Somatic Mutation Patterns Reflecting Genetic Background

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