One of the major issues associated with longer life expectancy in man and his best friend is an increase in the incidence of cancer.
Even though they cannot talk it seems dogs might be able to tell us why and how certain cancers develop. In turn that could lead to better treatments for both canine and human cancer patients.
An expert from the country’s newest Vet School will tell a symposium in London that studying tumours in dogs and humans could give us a better understanding of their shared pathogenesis.
Dr Ali Mobasheri, an Associate Professor from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at The University of Nottingham, is attending the one day symposium on 12th July, 2007 entitled ‘Curing Canine Cancer – Human Cancer Benefit’. The symposium has been organised by the Colorado based Morris Animal Foundation and is the first event of its kind to be held in this country. As well as addressing the cause of canine cancer, it will explore areas of translational cancer treatment research as cancer cures for dogs are now being successfully applied to humans, in particular children.
Cancer is the single biggest cause of death in dogs over the age of 2. The incidence of bone cancers, skin cancers, and lymphomas is increasing in humans and dogs and there are significant similarities between certain types of human and canine cancer – such as breast and prostate cancer. Dr Mobasheri says we are all mammals with similar genes and studying the bioenergetics of canine tumours will allow us to gain a comparative understanding of human tumour metabolism. He said: “We are using high throughput screening techniques to identify new biomarkers of prognostic significance in cancer. The approach involves using clinical samples from a tissue bank to carry out hypothesis driven immunohistochemical studies to look at tumour metabolism”.
Certain breeds of dog are known to develop certain types of cancer. For instance Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is common in the Greyhound and the Rottweiler. It is also the sixth most common cancer seen in children. Research into canine cancer is easier because of the dog’s extensive pedigree information. Experts say this could be crucial in identifying the underlying genetic causes of cancer in dogs and humans and finding treatments that could be to the benefit of both.
Dr Mobasheri said: “The benefits of taking a comparative approach to cancer research will be of mutual benefit to humans and companion animals. That is because cancer is cancer. It is a similar disease in animals and humans”.