Dogs help in breast carcinoma research

June 6, 2017, University of Zurich
Dogs suffering from mammary tumors aid breat cancer research for humans. Credit: Michelle Aimée Oesch, University of Zurich

Cancer of the mammary glands in dogs is very similar to human breast carcinoma. For this reason, treatment methods from human medicine are often used for dogs. Conversely, scientific knowledge gained from canine mammary tumors may also be important to human medicine. Researchers from the University of Zurich were able to show how similar these tumors are in both dogs and humans.

Cancer is one of the most frequent diseases not only in people, but in pets as well. Like people, can also suffer from cancer of the (). Dog mammary tumors are very similar to breast carcinoma in humans, and much more so than those of rats or mice, for example. For this reason, research on canine mammary tumors is important for medicine as well. A study performed at the University of Zurich has now shown how similar mammary tumors are in both people and dogs.

Cancerous cells reprogram healthy cells

For the development of tumors and the progression of a carcinoma, not only the characteristics of the cancer cells themselves are decisive, but also the cells surrounding the tumor play a major role in this. Many tumors even have the capability to reprogram in the tumor environment in a way that they start to support the growth of the . This mechanism plays an essential role in human breast carcinoma – but is it the same for dogs? The similarity of breast carcinoma in dogs and humans has been known for a long time. "But whether these also influence the surrounding tissue in dogs the same way they do in humans was unknown until now", explains Enni Markkanen of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Zurich.

Archived tissues are of great value to the research

The researchers analyzed the surrounding tissue of canine mammary tumors using molecular biology and immunohistological methods. To do this, they could access the tissue archive of the Institute of Veterinary Pathology located at the Animal Hospital. "With the permission of our patient's owners, we conduct pathological tests to better understand diseases," says animal pathologist Alexandra Malbon. "In the process, we archive samples of various organs and tissues as these samples can be of great value to answer future research questions."

Dogs suffering from cancer aid cancer research for humans

In the archived samples of mammary tumors from dog patients, Enni Markkanen and her team were able to prove that some cells in the vicinity of tumors behave the same way as the corresponding cells in humans: In the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, substances are produced that promote tumor growth. "Simply speaking, the tumor enslaves its environment: It forces the surrounding cells to work for its benefit," Markkanen adds. This mechanism works the same in both humans and dogs. For research on breast carcinoma, tumor tissue of dogs is therefore, among other reasons, much better suitable than tissue from rats or cultivated in the laboratory. "Importantly, however, we don't view our dog patients as test subjects for cancer research," Markkanen says. "But they can help us to better understand in both dogs and humans and fight it more effectively."

Explore further: New study: Aggressive breast cancer grows faster in obese environment

More information: Julia Ettlin et al. Analysis of Gene Expression Signatures in Cancer-Associated Stroma from Canine Mammary Tumours Reveals Molecular Homology to Human Breast Carcinomas, International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.3390/ijms18051101

Related Stories

New study: Aggressive breast cancer grows faster in obese environment

March 31, 2017
It's not just what's inside breast cancer cells that matters. It's also the environment surrounding cancer cells that drives the disease, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive ...

A new tumor suppressor gene for breast cancer in mice

September 13, 2016
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology revealed a role for an X-linked protein kinase Nrk in terminating the proliferation of mammary epithelial cells during pregnancy and thereby preventing breast tumorigenesis in ...

Engineered hydrogel scaffolds enable growth of functioning human breast tissue

March 1, 2016
Whitehead Institute researchers have created a hydrogel scaffold replicating the environment found within the human breast. The scaffold supports the growth of human mammary tissue from patient-derived cells and can be used ...

Study of glioma susceptibility in dogs may yield insights for humans

May 12, 2016
A new study of the genetic factors underlying glioma formation in dogs may hold clues to how these common and often untreatable tumors form in humans. The genome study, which was conducted across 25 dog breeds, identified ...

Breast cancer: An improved animal model opens up new treatments

March 3, 2016
EPFL scientists have developed an animal model for breast cancer that faithfully captures the disease. Tested on human breast tissue, this the most clinically realistic model of breast cancer to date.

Recommended for you

Study suggests well-known growth suppressor actually fuels lethal brain cancers

June 18, 2018
Scientists report finding a potentially promising treatment target for aggressive and deadly high-grade brain cancers like glioblastoma. But they also say the current lack of a drug that hits the molecular target keeps it ...

Targeting the engine room of the cancer cell

June 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have developed a highly innovative computational framework that can support personalized cancer treatment by matching individual tumors with the drugs or drug ...

Genomics offers new treatment options for infants with range of soft tissue tumors

June 18, 2018
The genetic causes of a group of related infant cancers have been discovered by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Wuerzburg and their collaborators. Whole genome sequencing of tumours revealed ...

Researchers create novel combination as potential therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma

June 18, 2018
Researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia, have identified a promising target to reverse the development of high-risk neuroblastoma and potentially inform the creation of novel combination therapies for ...

Standard myelofibrosis drug can awaken 'dormant' lymphoma

June 18, 2018
Most patients with myelofibrosis, a rare chronic disorder of the haematopoietic cells of the bone marrow, benefit from drugs from the JAK2 inhibitor class: symptoms are relieved, survival extended and general quality-of-life ...

Breast cancer researcher warns against online genetic tests

June 18, 2018
We have never been so fascinated by the secrets inside our cells.

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.