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From bark to bedside: Study looks at canine cancer genes, human health impact
Date:6/21/2010

EAST LANSING, Mich. Michigan State University veterinarians are taking part in a two-year, $5.3 million project to analyze five cancers in dogs, research that could offer new insight into canine cancer genes and their potential impact on the human form of the disease.

The Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium an alliance of veterinarians, scientists, clinicians, nonprofit institutions, universities and industry members will focus on purebred dogs, who offer a window into cancer genetics not available with other species, said Barbara Kitchell, director of MSU's Center for Comparative Oncology. She also is a member of the consortium's executive steering committee.

"Because purebred dogs have been selected to have specific physical and behavioral traits, their background genetics, within breeds, are very similar," Kitchell said. "With that 'background noise' suppressed, cancer genes are made more obvious."

The research partnership, entitled From Bark to Bedside, is led by the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids and the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix. Participating research teams are MSU, University of Pennsylvania and Colorado State University, as well as the National Cancer Institute.

As part of the group's research, MSU's Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and small animal clinical sciences, specifically is looking at histiocytic sarcomas, which are malignant, soft-tissue tumors that arise from cells in the immune system.

If the tumor is removed before cancer cells spread, the prognosis is good. Once the cancer spreads, most dogs live just a few weeks. The dogs most often affected by this type of cancer are Bernese mountain dogs.

Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan and her team, which includes Matti Kiupel of pathobiology and diagnostic investigations, will rely on a DNA and tumor tissue repository they set up at MSU in 2006 to analyze the gene make
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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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