Scientists Learn More about Human Cancers from Dogs

Researchers have successfully defined molecular subtypes of lymphoma from three separate dog breeds by comparing them to their human counterparts.  Lymphoma, a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, is the most common cancer in dogs and develops in over 550,000 humans a year.

A paper on the research was published by Ingegerd Elvers, et al. in Genome Research on September 16, 2015 and clearly illustrates the importance of translational research benefiting both global human and animal health.  Senior author Dr. Jessica Alfoldi of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard notes, “Working with the tumor DNA of golden retrievers, cocker spaniels and boxers, we have identified genes with known involvement in human lymphoma and other cancers as well as novel genes that could help in the discovery of much-needed new treatment options for cancer.”

Dogs are becoming increasingly invaluable in cancer studies to understand the similarities of the disease in both human and dogs.  Hopefully, the findings from these studies will yield results that can be applied to novel approaches to treat and cure cancer. To read the publication in Genome Research, please click here.

UK Research Facility Explains Why Dogs Are Needed

Harlan recently opened the doors of its research dog breeding facility in Cambridge, England to The Sun, a major UK newspaper. The result was a balanced article describing the excellent facilities and reasons dogs are needed for research purposes. The article included many photos, a listing of drugs whose development depended, in part, on the use of dogs, and public opinions. Yes, research opponents are quoted, but so are medical researchers. A pharmacology professor states, “I’ve been in medical research for 30 years. I recently worked on a new drug for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As part of the process of making sure it’s safe for man we commissioned experiments on dogs. You can’t just take people off the street and give them the drug straight away. This process is for the safety of the public. We don’t do these experiments on animals because we want to. [Government regulatory requirements for safety testing are mentioned elsewhere.] A lot of people, including me, spend their lives looking for alternatives to animals, but a single cell is not the same as a whole organism.”

Harlan’s communications director, Andrew Gay, is quoted extensively. He says, “The beagles’ role is vital in developing important new drugs for serious illnesses in humans — including high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and also cancer.” Gay concluded, “These are working dogs. It’s an honorable thing for a dog to do and for us to ask a dog to do. The people who work here love dogs and while they are with us we want to make sure they have the best care possible. They are doing a great service for us.

Read the full article here.

Dogs on the Hunt for Cancer Cure in Humans

Earlier this week, Chemical & Engineering News featured a wonderful look into the important role that animal research, specifically that with canine models, play in improving human and veterinary help.  The article, “Could Fido Fetch a Cure?” takes a close look at dogs with cancer and the valuable insight they are providing to help cure the disease.

After receiving the diagnosis that Moses, a six-year-old black Labrador retriever, had lymphoma, he was enrolled by his family in a clinical trial at the University of Missouri where he would be treated with new class of chemotherapy drugs.  These new agents, called indenoisoquinolines, were developed through a collaboration between the United States’ top veterinary schools and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC).  The article notes, “running clinical trials on dogs with cancer is a win-win. Trials may save the lives of beloved family pets, while the data collected can be used to inform drug development for human patients.”  Thanks to their efforts, Moses is doing well.

Cancer is not exclusively a human problem and our four-legged friends are helping researchers improve therapy.  To learn more about this effort, please read “Could Fido Catch a Cure?” by clicking here.

Man’s Best Friend Helping Research for Kids with Spina Bifida

About four children are born every day in the United States with spina bifida, a birth defect where the baby’s backbone and its surrounding membranes fail to develop properly.  Thanks to animal research and the efforts of researchers at the University of California Davis and the University of Iowa, science has learned one more clue about the cause of spina bifida.

Through the use of dogs, specifically Weimaraners, these researchers identified the gene they believe is a risk factor for spina bifida.  The gene was identified in four Weimaraners with spinal dysraphism, a disorder causing impairment of motor skills and partial paralysis of the legs.  This gene could not be located in other dog breeds but a similar mutation was found in 149 people with spina bifida.

In the online journal PLOS Genetics, the researchers noted about the study, “Dogs are excellent biomedical models for humans since they receive comparable medical care, share our home environment and develop naturally occurring diseases comparable to those in humans.”

To read more about this step forward in spina bifida research, please click here.

Setting the Record Straight on Animal Research

In a story published today on The Conversation website, Lauren Emily Wright focuses on animal research, its value, and how best to ensure that animal care and scientific discovery can continue to blossom.

Wright’s article, “Animal research: varying standards are leading to bad science,” makes very good points in her discussion on the importance of animal care and the direct connection to accurate scientific results.  She goes on to note that good training and reasonable scientific policy is the best approach for research going forward.

To read, “Animal research: varying standards are leading to bad science,” please click here.

Dogs Helping in Development of Cataract Treatment

According to an article published by Science on July 22, a team of researchers and ophthalmologists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) are working to tackle cataracts, a condition effecting humans and dogs, with the assistance of man’s best friend.

These researchers have been able to develop eye drops that have shown potential in rabbits and dogs, specifically black Labs, Queensland Heelers, and Miniature Pinschers.  The results have been nothing short of remarkable.  According to the article, “Eye drops could dissolve cataracts,” researchers could tell just by looking into the dogs eyes that the cataracts had decreased.

These developments are especially exciting considering that the only current treatment for cataracts, which effects tens of millions of people across the globe and approximately 17.2% of Americans over 40, is surgery.

To learn more about this discovery and to read the article, please click here.

Speaking of Research Stands-Up for Dog Research in the U.K.

Last week, in response to public outcry against the opening of a research beagle breeding facility in the U.K., Tom Holder penned a detailed analysis of the importance these models play in biomedical research in The Huffington Post.

Holder, the Director of Speaking of Research, highlights the discovery of insulin and the development of the rabies vaccine along with current achievements in perfecting artery to vein blood transfusions and a novel stem cell transplant treatment that allowed 23 pet dogs with paralyzing spinal injuries to regain some use of their rear legs.

He goes on to note that 20% of the dogs used in U.K. research are imported because U.K. breeding facilities cannot provide all of the dogs used.  Holder writes, “These dogs have to endure long and potentially stressful flights from other countries. Surely it is better to breed them here in the UK, where we have some of the highest standards of laboratory animal welfare in the world and where our facilities can be easily monitored by the Animals in Science Regulation Unit inspectors? The new breeding facility offers animal welfare standards above and beyond those demanded by the Government.”

To read Holder’s posting, “Why People Are Wrong to Oppose the New Beagle Breeding Facility,” and to view some informative videos, please click here.

Do Dogs Hold the Key to Beating Cancer?

Over the centuries, dogs have been man’s best friend.  They’ve given us friendship, companionship, love, and protection.  But could they now help science cure cancer?  Today, July 20, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News featured an article on this exciting possibility entitled, “Cancer in Dogs Offers Insight for Humans.”

Through animal research, they just might.  Since sequencing the dog genome several years ago, scientists have discovered strong similarities in dog and human cancers and researchers hope, that through comparative oncology, human cancer research and cure development will learn valuable information from our canine friends.  One of the most notable of these dogs was that of retired North Dakota U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, named Dakota, who participated in a T-cell cancer project at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center before passing away in February of 2013.

To learn more about the scientific efforts of researchers and dogs in combating cancer, please read the article by clicking here.

Washington University in St. Louis’ Magazine Highlights Important Translational Research with Dogs

“Outlook,” the magazine published by Washington University in St. Louis, took an interesting look at the connection between animals, specifically dogs, and cancer research for both human and animal benefit in its April edition.

Physicians, collaborating with veterinarians, are designing clinical trials to seek out mutually beneficial therapies and treat diseases.   “Shared Medicine” is an interesting examination of the One Health, or One Medicine, movement and clearly shows the importance of animal research when it comes to conquering cancer not just for mankind but for dogs and other species, as well.

Through these endeavors, researchers are hoping to accelerate cancer drug and treatment development for humans and their four-legged friends.  “People love their pets and want to treat them when they get cancer,” Dr. David Curel, professor of radiation oncology and of cancer biology at Washington University said. “And dogs get cancers that are very similar to human cancers.”

To read “Shared Medicine,” please click here.

FBR Interviews the Beagle Rescue League’s Labs to Leash Division

As you've probably already seen and heard, there is a national organization with ties to the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and animal rights extremist terror that has disguised itself as a group seeking adoptive homes for dogs and cats used in research. Make no mistake: this is not their ultimate objective. They have used these animals as props in the media to vilify lifesaving animal and veterinary research and as fundraising tools to fund their expensive lobbying campaigns as they pursue anti-research legislation across the country.

There is, however, thankfully one group who makes it their mission to find homes for former research beagles after they have helped in the endeavor to improve human and animal lives. The Beagle Rescue League's Labs to Leash Division works tirelessly, day-in and day-out, without a political agenda to place the right dogs in the right homes. Last week, the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) interviewed Carolyn Sterner, President of the Beagle Rescue League, and discussed the Labs to Leash Division's valuable work to assist research institutions' adoption efforts.

To learn more about the Beagle Rescue League, their efforts, and how you can help, please click here.

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