Dogs Fighting Cancer
Reported December 2011
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --In the U.S, one in four people will die of cancer each year, but it’s not only humans that are in danger. Cancer is the leading cause of death among older cats and dogs. Now, new research is helping man’s best friends thrive while giving researchers a chance at curing cancer in humans.
Millie Edmonds always wanted to adopt. So when the opportunity knocked, she took it.
“She just needed someone to love her,” Millie Edmonds told Ivanhoe.
And that love was put to the test soon after Millie took Cali home. Cali had twelve tumors in her mammary glands
“We were there to help her – whether she was sick or not,” Edmonds said.
Like breast cancer in humans --early detection can save a dog’s life. That’s why oncologist, Dr. Karin Sorenmo created the Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program. She and her veterinary students provide care to shelter dogs with tumors. They collect the canine tissue samples for scientists to compare with human ones. Most dogs have tumors in one gland and will develop others. Researchers can study tumors in all stages of development…potentially stopping the spread of the cancer cells.
“If we can figure out what happens when a tumor becomes malignant, what are the most important genetic alterations, maybe there will be a target that can be drugged,” Karin Sorenmo, an oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine told Ivanhoe.
At a clinical trial at Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center, oncologist Jenna Burton is helping dogs fight B cell lymphoma.
“Lymphoma is a very aggressive type of cancer and most patients are no longer with us 4 to 6 weeks of diagnosis,” Jenna Burton a veterinary oncologist told Ivanhoe.
In the trial, doctors combine two different types of chemotherapy drugs with a vaccine made from the patient’s own tumor.
“Using a patient’s own tumor to create a vaccine against it is something of interest to both vet and human oncologists,” Burton said.
Lab tests showed that when the vaccine was mixed with the drug Clodronate, it significantly enhanced tumor responses. The top three cancers in dogs are mast cell tumor, lymphoma and osteosarcoma--two of which also affect humans.
“Dogs are really good test subjects, a lot of people may not realize that dogs develop cancer just like people do,” Burton said.
She’s hoping looking at old drugs in a new way in animals, can give us a peak into the future of cancer treatment.
“There’s a lot of interest in ways we can manipulate the immune system in patients and dogs with cancer,” Burton concluded.
Saving our furry friends so they can save us.
Dogs that are not spayed are at least four times more likely to get mammary tumors. Lymphoma can affect any dog of any breed at any age. It accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all cancers in dogs.
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