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'2 dogs 2,000 miles' trek promotes dog DNA for cancer research
Date:6/7/2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. June 5, 2010 A man and his two dogs on a 2,000-mile walk to raise awareness about cancer in dogs is helping a new $5.3 million canine cancer project recently launched by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI).

Starting from his hometown of Austin, Texas, Luke Robinson and his two Great Pyrenees Hudson and Murphy have walked across America, after one of Robinson's other giant white fluffy dogs, Malcolm, died of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.

Robinson and his dogs plan to complete their more than 2,000-mile trek in Boston on June 19, when the TGen-VARI-led Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium (CHCC) will join Robinson in celebrating by gathering DNA samples from as many as 2,000 dogs nationwide.

"Luke started out just trying to raise awareness, but he clearly had in his mind the desire to see this benefit dogs with cancer, and owners of dogs with cancer," said Dr. Mark Neff, director of the new TGen-VARI Program for Canine Health and Performance. "By allowing us to work with him to get samples, he's realizing the potential of his effort to actually go in the direction of science, with tangible benefits and potential new treatments for these dogs."

Samples will be collected by the CHCC for a nationwide project involving more than 30 scientific investigators at nearly a dozen institutions, which plan to use dog DNA to not only discover the causes of cancer in dogs, but in people, too.

Without harming any dogs, researchers including those at the National Cancer Institute will analyze the DNA, mostly from doggy drool obtained by simply swabbing the inside of dogs' cheeks.

Robinson grew up in Austin. He operated a consulting practice for biotech companies in San Antonio and Boston, where he moved in 2003. He put the business and the rest of his life on hold to walk with Murphy and Hudson.

"We've already walked across 15 states. We
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Contact: Steve Yozwiak
syozwiak@tgen.org
602-343-8704
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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