Comparing animal and human cancers for mutual benefit

October 16, 2012
Dr Peter Bennett: "We want to improve and maintain the quality of life of both human and animal cancer patients."

(Medical Xpress)—A diagnosis of cancer once spelled the end for our animal companions but the launch today of a specialty cancer clinic, led by one of Australia's leading veterinary oncologists at the University of Sydney, offers new hope.

"Our clinic is one of the first specialist oncology services to be established in a veterinary teaching hospital in Australia," said Dr Peter Bennett from the University's Faculty of Veterinary Science and the newly appointed head of the cancer service. Dr Bennett's position is a joint appointment with the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre to drive comparative research.

Both dogs and cats have a range of cancers, and many of these are similar to the diseases seen in humans including lymphoma, melanomas, skin cancer and bone tumours.

"My ambition is to identify cutting edge treatment options developed for people that may benefit veterinary patients, as well as use information gained from animal cases to help our understanding of how cancers occur and how we manage them in people. Most importantly we want to improve and maintain the quality of life of both human and animal cancer patients," Dr Bennett said.

sufferers will also benefit from the University's recent establishment of a research group to compare human and animal cancer. Dr Bennett will contribute to the recently established Comparative Oncology Special Interest Group (CO-SIG) chaired by Dr Beata Ujvari, which promotes collaboration between human and animal cancer researchers for mutual benefit.

Comparative oncology is a multidisciplinary approach that connects clinicians, oncologists, pathologists, epidemiologists and molecular researchers who study naturally occurring animal tumours.

"Comparative oncology has been a major contributor to better pet care in America in the last five years but this diverse, multidisciplinary group is new for Australia, where veterinary oncology is only a recent development," Dr Bennett said.

Animal are essential to improving our understanding of what is happening at the molecular level in cancer development.

One research area being focused on by the University is viruses that increase the risk of cancer in cats. "We are looking at the role of viruses in cat lymphoma. Cats are now the most popular choice of pet in the world and lymphoma is the most common cancer they suffer. It is also common in humans," said Associate Professor Julia Beatty, who is leading the research.

Knowing that the Epstein-Barr virus can cause cancer in people with immunodeficiency problems, such as transplant recipients or AIDS patients, Associate Professor Beatty is studying if a similar virus causes lymphoma and other cancers in cats.

"Our aim is to design treatments and vaccines to improve cancer treatment outcomes in cats and people," Associate Professor Beatty said.

Members of CO-SIG are also investigating molecules that influence the clinical outcome of canine mast cell tumours in dogs; the high incidence of lymphoma in some dog breeds; and Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease, where a is transmitted by bites due to the devils' immune system failing to recognise the need to respond.

Explore further: Study finds risk factors for cat cancer, could have human implications

Related Stories

Study finds risk factors for cat cancer, could have human implications

September 28, 2011
A recent, large-scale study on cat intestinal cancer has provided new insight into a common pet disease and its causes; the findings could ultimately benefit humans.

Sniffing out lymphoma by turning dogs into humans

April 6, 2011
Researchers at North Carolina State University are narrowing the search for genes involved in non-Hodgkin lymphoma – by turning dogs into humans.

Recommended for you

Clinical trial suggests new cell therapy for relapsed leukemia patients

November 20, 2017
A significant proportion of children and young adults with treatment-resistant B-cell leukemia who participated in a small study achieved remission with the help of a new form of gene therapy, according to researchers at ...

Researchers discover a new target for 'triple-negative' breast cancer

November 20, 2017
So-called "triple-negative" breast cancer is a particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat form. It accounts for only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases, but is responsible for about 25 percent of breast cancer fatalities.

Study reveals new mechanism used by cancer cells to disarm attacking immune cells

November 20, 2017
A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) identifies a substance released by pancreatic cancer cells that protects ...

Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose cancer drugs

November 20, 2017
Doctors have many drugs available to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. However, there is no way to predict, by genetic markers or other means, how a patient will respond to a particular drug. This can lead to ...

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.