Study shows dog DNA can help human cancer patients

March 18, 2014 by Steve Yozwiak, Translational Genomics Research Institute

(Medical Xpress)—Using genomic analysis to study cancer in dogs can help develop new therapies for humans with cancer, according to a proof-of-concept study led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Pure-breed dogs, whose genetics have been standardized by hundreds of years of human intervention, provide highly predictable genetic models useful in designing clinical trials, in which specific drugs are matched to the molecular profiles of human patients, according to the study published today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

"Our canine companions are not only 'Man's Best Friend,' but our study shows that dogs also can help human patients pursue battles against various types of ," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director and the study's senior author. "Not only do dogs with cancer benefit from this research, but people do, as well."

While there are, relatively, many genetic differences among humans with the same type of cancer, there are far fewer genetic differences among dogs of the same breed, making it vastly easier to identify and study the genes driving canine cancers.

The process of integrating naturally occurring cancers in dogs into the general studies of human cancer biology and therapy is known as comparative oncology. The identification of specific drugs to treat individuals based on their specific genetic or molecular make-up is often referred to as personalized medicine, or PMed.

Genetic samples from 31 dogs were analyzed in the proof-of-concept study organized under NCI's Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC). Genetic samples were derived for this study from tumor biopsy samples. No dogs were harmed in any way in this clinical study.

"Complex models are needed to effectively evaluate PMed study designs, and this proof-of-concept trial validates the dog with cancer as a model for clinical evaluation of novel PMed approaches," said Dr. Melissa Paoloni, the study's lead author and former director of the COTC. "Comparative oncology models have the potential to expedite this evaluation and lead advancements in personalized medicine."

The COTC study was organized according to the propensity of different breeds to develop particular . The study included Scottish terriers with bladder transitional cell carcinoma, golden retrievers with lymphoma, American cocker spaniels with melanoma, and a fourth group of dogs open to all cancer types.

The study's 31 samples of dog tumors was compared to 40 normal canine tissues samples as a way of estimating the variance in gene expression. The target turnaround time for this analysis was 7 days, but the study averaged this process in less than 5 days.

"Overall the turnaround for sample analyses fit a relevant clinical window for future comparative oncology trials to model human PMed advancements," said Dr. William Hendricks, a TGen Staff Scientist and another author of the study. "Future comparative oncology studies, optimizing the delivery of PMed strategies, may aid cancer drug development."

"Data from this study serves as rationale to now include with spontaneous cancers in the advancement and optimization of PMed for human patients," according to the study," Prospective molecular profiling of canine cancers provides a clinically relevant comparative model for evaluating personalized medicine (PMed) trials."

Explore further: Human and canine lymphomas share molecular similarities, first large-scale comparison shows

More information: Paoloni M, Webb C, Mazcko C, Cherba D, Hendricks W, et al. (2014) "Prospective Molecular Profiling of Canine Cancers Provides a Clinically Relevant Comparative Model for Evaluating Personalized Medicine (PMed) Trials." PLoS ONE 9(3): e90028. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090028

Related Stories

Human and canine lymphomas share molecular similarities, first large-scale comparison shows

June 25, 2013
Humans and their pet dogs are close, so close that they both develop a type of cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. In humans it's the most common lymphoma subtype while in dogs, it's one of the most common cancers ...

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

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

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.