New research shows dogs may be able to help us treat cancer

Dogs are known as man’s best friend. Now, they are taking on a role as man’s best medical insight and playing a critical role in helping cure cancerous tumors.

Diffuse glioma is the most common malignant tumor that can grow in the brain and dogs and humans happen to develop them at very similar rates. Because of this similarity, scientists decided to study how tumor development progressed in dogs compared to humans. They found that the mutation rate and DNA methylation were very similar in canine and human cases. Unfortunately, diffuse gliomas have high recurrence rates and often a negative prognosis, so solutions towards curing and preventing them are badly needed.

Last week we looked at similarities between dog and squid brains. This additional case shows how interconnected different species can be. This parallel between human and canine cancer is helpful for both species. Studying cases in conjunction with one another can help provide vital insights towards curing diffuse gliomas in both humans and dogs.

Lead author Roel Verhaak, Ph.D. says the next step is to further research common molecular drivers of dog and pediatric gliomas to find a starting point in preventing this common cancer.

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