Our “Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” 2014 calendar is in full swing, so stop by and vote for your favorite canine cancer heroes. Your voting dollars will go to The Broad Institute again this year, and we want to raise as much as we can to further their work. Their research is international and encompasses canine cancer exploration at the DNA level. Last year the calendar contest winners chose to fund Broad’s Canine Osteosarcoma study. This year’s winners will have the same opportunity to choose which study to support.
And the work Broad does is translational*, which means it helps in human cancer research as well.
Some Background — Since the Human Genome Mapping Project began, $3 billion has been spent over 15 years to generate a reliable sequence of the human genome. Sequence of the canine genome was generated in 2004, taking only about a year to finish and costing about $50 million. (Source.)
Throughout this period of intense research, an important fact has emerged. People and dogs are extraordinarily similar in a genetic sense. But while it takes thousands of human patients with cancer to identify risk factors, it only takes maybe 100 canine patients to identify these factors in dogs. This is because their genetic makeup is not as ‘noisy’ as that of humans. As such, researchers can look at the genetics of cancer in dogs to accelerate discoveries that will benefit both dogs and people.
As you probably already know, the statistics on cancer in dogs are alarming, and in fact, the current rate of cancer is higher in dogs than it is in humans.
But did you know that dogs are:
- Twice as likely to develop leukemia than humans.
- Four times more likely to suffer from breast cancer.
- Eight times more likely to develop bone cancer.
- An incredible thirty-five times more at risk for developing skin cancer. (Source.)
So, besides voting in the calendar contest to support the work of Broad, how can you help further the research they’re doing the rest of the year?
Broad needs DNA samples from purebred dogs who have been diagnosed with the cancers Broad is studying, as well as from older, healthy dogs (ages 8+ years) from the same breeds. Currently those cancers are: Hemangiosarcoma, Osteosarcoma (bone cancer), Lymphoma, Mast Cell Tumors, Mammary Tumors, Melanoma (skin cancer), and Glioma (tumors that start in the brain or spine).
Why are DNA samples important? At its deepest root, cancer is caused by damage to the DNA. DNA is found in every cell and is responsible for directing cells in normal behavior patterns. Under normal circumstances, the body is able to repair DNA damage, but when that damage isn’t repaired, the cells begin to behave abnormally, beginning the out-of-control growth that leads to cancer formation. (Source.)
Why purebred dogs? In developing breeds, certain physical features (size, shape, coat, color) and behaviors were selected by breeders. This genetic diversity makes purebreds dogs ideal for genetic research. Using samples from only purebred dogs ensures the fastest progress for all dogs.
If your purebred dog has had cancer or is an older, healthy dogs (age 8+) please visit www.broadinstitute.org/dogsamples where you’ll find information to guide you on working with your vet to collect and ship blood samples to use in their studies.
To learn more about the breeds they study and the work your votes will be funding, please follow this link: www.broadinstitute.org/dogresearch.
Broad’s Ethical Statement: The Broad Institute’s Canine Disease Mapping group performs disease research under a conservative ethical model that no harm should come to the dogs. Dogs enrolled in their studies are pet dogs, participating after owner consent, only in ways that do not harm them. They DO NOT induce cancer in dogs, nor do they ever keep any animals in the laboratory.
Thank you for supporting the efforts of 2 Million Dogs and The Broad Institute through your participation in the 2014 “Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” calendar. Don’t forget to cast your votes for your favorite dogs before voting ends at midnight, EDT, August 8th.
*Translational research is research in the laboratory with an eye toward learning things that could be brought back to patients (both animal and human) in the clinical setting.