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U of Minn researchers discover genetic cancer link between humans and dogs
Date:2/28/2008

aration from a common ancestor.

Since we know now that dogs and humans seem to share a common pathogenetic basis for some cancers, we believe that studying dog cancers may allow us to identify cancer-associated genes more easily in dog populations than in human populations. Once identified, we may be able to translate these findings to human cancers as we seek to provide a greater level of insight into cancer risk, diagnosis, and prognosis, said Modiano.

According to Breen and Modiano, dogs are good research subjects because they develop the disease spontaneously, and many of the modern breeds have developed over the past few hundred years using restricted gene pools. This selective breeding has preserved the genetics of a breed. It has also made some breeds more susceptible to certain cancers. These factors, coupled with the high degree of similarity between the genomes of dogs and humans, provided the researchers with an opportunity to compare the genomes and study the evolutionary genetic changes associated with cancer.

The human genome has 46 chromosomes and the dog genome contains 78 chromosomes. Sometimes, in the normal duplication process of cells, chromosomes can become rearranged or relocated. This rearrangement or relocation is called translocation. It can lead to a cell losing its normal function, becoming abnormal, and possibly developing into cancer.

Interestingly, we found that the same translocation of chromosomes happens in dogs as in humans for the three blood and bone marrow cancers we studied, Modiano said.

Breen and Modiano conclude that despite millions of years of divergence, the evolving genomes of dogs and humans seem to have retained the mechanism associated with cancer, and that the conserved changes in the genomes have similar consequences in dogs and humans.

Like ourselves, our pet dogs suffer from a wide range of spontaneous cancers. For thousands of years humans and dogs have shared a unique bond. In the 21st ce
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Contact: Sara E. Buss
buss@umn.edu
612-626-7037
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert  

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