1093B-T: Positional Cloning of the Gene(s) for Gastric Cancer in the Chow Chow

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $6,232
Elizabeth McNiel, DVM, PhD; Tufts Medical Center
January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Sponsor(s): American Belgian Malinois Club, American Belgian Tervuren Club, Inc., Belgian Sheepdog Club of America, Inc., Chow Chow Club, Inc., Non-sporting Group Club of the Garden State

Breed(s): Chow Chow
Research Program Area: Oncology
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Project Summary

Our work has documented an increased risk of gastric carcinoma (stomach cancer) in the Chow Chow as well as a number of other breeds including Akita, Belgian Sheepdog, Tervuren and Malinois, Bouvier, Eurasier, Irish Setter, Keeshond, Norwegian Elkhound, and the Scottish Terrier. In 2002, we initiated a database and sample repository for the study of canine gastric carcinoma. The overarching goal of our work is to determine the genetic underpinnings of canine gastric carcinoma, which would improve our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease. DNA samples from our database are being used to compare over 100,000 genetic markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) in dogs with stomach cancer to those without. Currently, we have acquired samples from 864 dogs with and without stomach cancer. More than half of our current samples have been collected in the last few years with the assistance of the grant from the Canine Health Foundation. While we have not yet identified a definitive genetic locus for gastric cancer susceptibility, we have significantly expanded our sample set and will be pursuing additional analyses. Our sample numbers are highest for Chow Chows, Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdogs, and Keeshonden. Sample numbers for the other breeds are still inadequate for complete characterization at this stage. We have made two important observations based on our initial database. First, we have found that about 30% of dogs from which we have collected samples as healthy controls develop either gastric carcinoma or another cancer. This observation emphasizes 1) the importance of health follow-up of "control" dogs and 2) the need to obtain control samples from older adults when possible. Second, we have established that the dogs dying of gastric carcinoma are significantly younger than dogs dying of other causes. For example, the average age at death for Chow Chows diagnosed with gastric carcinoma is 9.5 years, whereas the average age of death for Chow Chows in the database that die of causes other than gastric carcinoma is 11.8 years. This observation also holds for Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdogs and Keeshonden, and demonstrates that gastric carcinoma may be one of the biggest threats to longevity in all of these breeds.


Parker, H. G., Shearin, A. L., & Ostrander, E. A. (2010). Man’s Best Friend Becomes Biology’s Best in Show: Genome Analyses in the Domestic Dog. Annual Review of Genetics, 44(1), 309–336. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-genet-102808-115200

Shearin, A. L., & Ostrander, E. A. (2010). Leading the way: canine models of genomics and disease. Disease Models & Mechanisms, 3(1–2), 27–34. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.004358

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