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MU researchers find condition in dogs that may help further research into human disease
Date:7/9/2013

COLUMBIA, Mo. Some people possess a small number of cells in their bodies that are not genetically their own; this condition is known as microchimerism. It is difficult to determine potential health effects from this condition because of humans' relatively long life-spans. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that microchimerism can be found in dogs as well. Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and director of Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory, says this discovery will help doctors determine what diseases humans with microchimerism may be more likely to develop during their lifetimes.

"Dogs have a much shorter lifespan than humans, which allows us, as researchers, to better monitor what diseases they may develop throughout their entire lives," Bryan said. "We already have some evidence that microchimerism may increase risk of thyroid disease while lowering the risk of breast cancer in women. Finding microchimerism in dogs allows us to track this condition over a lifespan of about 10 years, as opposed to the 70 or 80 years of a human life. This will make it much easier to determine any increased risk of or protection from other diseases brought on by microchimerism."

"Our study demonstrates that male microchimerism of probable fetal origin occurs in the pet dog population," said Sandra Axiak-Bechtel, an assistant professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. "Evidence exists in women that fetal microchimerism may have conflicting roles in disease formation. The pet dog represents an excellent model of many ailments in people, and the presence of fetal microchimerism in dogs will allow studies which further clarify its role in health and disease."

Microchimerism most often occurs when a mother gives birth to a child. Sometimes, cells from that child are left in the mothers' body and continue to live, despite being of a different
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Contact: Nathan Hurst
hurstn@missouri.edu
573-882-6217
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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