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Can Your Dog Help Cure Cancer? In a special feature report tonight on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, researchers have discovered since 2005 that dogs can indeed contribute to curing cancer in humans. At that time a specific canine genome was discovered that allowed studies to closely follow changes caused in the dog by their treatments. Many cancers were found to be close enough to the same cancers in humans that accelerated treatment results are now being obtained from some very carefully designed studies. Following are some excerpts:
Can Your Dog Help Cure Cancer?
Some of the most promising insights into cancer are coming from pet dogs thanks to emerging studies exploring remarkable biological similarities between man and his best friend.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs. Every year, millions of dogs develop lymphomas and malignancies of the bones, blood vessels, skin and breast. An increasing group of researchers recognize cancer-stricken canines as a natural study population, especially given owners’ storied devotion to their canine companions’ well-being.
Because dogs age many times more rapidly than humans and their cancers progress more quickly, canine cancer studies produce quicker results. Veterinary oncologists talk in terms of “one- to two-year survival times” for their pet patients, compared to survival times of five to 10 years that oncologists discuss for their human patients, said Dr. Melissa Paoloni, a veterinary oncologist with the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research in Bethesda, Md.
“One of the great advantages of doing clinical trials in dogs is that owners can elect to do experimental therapy instead of conventional from the very beginning,” Dr. Terry Fossum, the Texas A&M veterinarian who administered Rowdy’s limb-sparing, potentially life-saving treatment, told ABC News.
People, in contrast, typically undergo experimental treatments only after conventional treatments have failed….
…Since the identification of the dog genome in 2005, researchers have been identifying genetic changes associated with dog cancers and comparing them to changes “in corresponding human cancers” to figure out where there is overlap, said Dr. Matthew Breen, an associate professor of genomics at NC State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, N.C., one of the consortium schools. By being able to “tease out the major genes associated with cancers in other species and then assess the role of these genes,” scientists have found changes in canine lymphoma that can predict how well that dog will respond to standard chemotherapy, a finding that could potentially benefit as many as 300,000 dogs diagnosed each year.
By seeing if the same changes in human lymphoma can predict treatment success, “this translation from dog to human” might improve doctors’ ability to predict the responses of “up to 70,000 Americans” diagnosed with lymphoma each year, he said.
Assuring these programs can thrive depends upon making pet owners aware of clinical trials. Texas A&M’s Fossum, who helped establish the Texas Veterinary Cancer Registry, told ABC News she hopes to make the registry a national resource linking more pet owners with clinical trials.
In the meantime, word is slowly getting around that clinical trials can be a win-win for pets and people….
…Canine clinical trials have the potential to accelerate progress in the fight against cancer, helping “patients with and without fur,” Paoloni told ABCNews.com Tuesday. “All of our interests are geared to learning something from the dog that’s applied to human patients.”
Tens of thousands of dog owners every year are faced with some tough decisions when their beloved pet develops some form of canine cancer.
Now they have alternatives to the traditional therapies: clinical trials. If you are faced with your dog having cancer, please consider the clinical trials option seriously. Continuation of these trials depends upon getting enough dog volunteers to treat. This is not commonly known that they are available, so bring up this possibility with your veterinarian.
Read the full article and watch the video for more info. Rapid advances could possibly be made from these trials. So the answer to my original question of Can Your Dog Help Cure Cancer? is a resounding “YES”!
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