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Slobbery kisses from 'man's best friend' aid cancer research
Date:4/15/2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. April 15, 2010 Fido's wet licks might hold more than love. They could provide the DNA keys to findings new treatments for rare cancers and other diseases in both dogs and human patients.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) have created the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium, a program designed to study naturally occurring cancers in dogs to better understand why both pets and people get sick.

"Rare diseases in humans also show up in dogs. By studying the DNA of canines, we expect to more quickly discover the genomic causes of disease and more quickly find ways to better treat dogs, and people,'' said Dr. Mark Neff, director of the new TGen-VARI Program for Canine Health and Performance.

Using voluntarily donated saliva, blood and tumor samples from many breeds of privately owned dogs, researchers hope that by studying canine cancers they can pinpoint the causes of human cancers. The goal is to translate that knowledge into therapeutics useful to both veterinarians and clinical oncologists.

No dogs will be harmed and many should be helped. Nearly half of all dogs 10 years and older die from cancer. Dogs will be treated as patients at veterinary clinics nationwide. The research is endorsed by the American Kennel Club and by the Morris Animal Foundation. Samples will be gathered with the consent of owners and veterinarians.

In addition to cancer, TGen and VARI eventually will study neurological and behavioral disorders as well as hearing loss and other debilitative conditions in dogs that could relate to people.

The cancer research will be supported by the recent approval of a 2-year, $4.3 million federal stimulus grant to the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium, which includes TGen and VARI in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan State University, dog breeders and veterinaria
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Contact: Steve Yozwiak
syozwiak@tgen.org
602-343-8704
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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