In two studies released this week, we are learning more about the connection between dogs and humans that goes beyond man’s best friend. Genome’s spring issue featured an article, “Going to the Dogs,” about the similarities between dogs and humans, and how studying diseases across species is advancing our knowledge of both dog and human health.
Brain tumors in dogs and humans are very similar. In an analysis of 25 breeds, researchers identified three genes that are associated with the development of gliomas in dogs. Since humans share these genes with dogs, researchers hope that learning more about dog gliomas will lead to new treatments for both dogs and humans. Gliomas are aggressive and are the most common type of brain tumor in humans and the second most common in dogs. This study was published in PLOS Genetics.
In a separate study also published in PLOS Genetics, researchers discovered an association with canine mammary tumors (CMT) and the CDK5RAP2 gene. Researchers focused on the English springer spaniel breed because of its propensity for early onset CMT and concluded that “similarities in epidemiology, clinical features and genetic predisposition suggest that CMT could be used as a model for breast cancer on many levels.” Further investigation on CDK5RAP2 is needed to understand its connection, if any, to breast cancer and its possible effect on treatments.
I have lost many family members and friends — humans, canines, and felines — to cancer. I hope the knowledge we gain from these studies and other research across species will help to develop targeted treatments that will result in less side effects and longer lives for ourselves and our best friends.