Monthly Archives: March 2014

Dogs helping dogs AND kids with osteosarcoma!

Young girl and German shepherd dogAn opportunity for dogs to help people AND other dogs? It’s a win-win situation. It turns out that the biology of the most common kind of bone tumor in dogs (osteosarcoma) is that same as the biology of these tumors in children. By working with dogs with bone tumors, researchers can try different kinds of drugs in an attempt to increase the dog’s lifespan. While there’s no guarantee that a drug that works on these dogs will work in a human patient, researchers can get more information about the way the drug works on this particular cancer. This information will help them make a more educated guess as to whether or not it would work in a human. And while it would definitely be amazing if they could translate their results into humans, at the very least, they’re working hard to find an appropriate treatment for dogs with this disease!

In some research studies, animals are specifically bred for the particular study. In this study, their clinical trial involves pets that already have cancer. It’s estimated that only 5% of dogs with osteosarcoma will live past the age of 2. Awesome research- check it out!

A new way to make babies… forget the birds and the bees!

iStock_000011577284SmallYou know about the birds and the bees… but this is a whole new conversation. New research gives a new meaning to the term “three-way”! The FDA is considering the approval of in-vitro fertilization techniques that could give a child not two- but three- parents.

For women with mitochondrial defects, this could allow them to have children while preventing disease. A woman with mitochondrial defects could have the nuclear DNA removed from one of her eggs, and put into a donor egg from a woman with normal mitochondrial DNA. Studies involving oocyte modification with animals and human embryos have shown that it’s possible, and as mitochondrial diseases occur in 1 in 5,000 births, this could be a big step forward.

There are other points of view, though- some argue that offspring would need to be carefully followed to determine potential health effects of this procedure, and others question whether or not it’s ethical.

It’s a lot to think about. What do you think? Would you support this, or argue against it? What information do you need to make a decision about it? Let me know what you think. Read more here and here.

Peeing on a stick just became awesome

iStock_000006931163SmallIf you’ve peed on a stick,¬†you’re either a woman who has tried to determine your ovulation or pregnancy status, or a significant other who wanted to know what would happen if YOU peed on the stick. Either way, if you’ve done it, you know that it is NOT awesome. No matter how hard you try, it’s just about impossible to pee on that damn absorbent tip without peeing all over your hand. Seriously- NOT awesome.

But that’s about to change. Researchers have developed a test that could detect cancer- and it’s as easy as peeing on a stick. Tumor proteins are harder to detect than pregnancy hormones, so here’s how it works: a patient would get an injection of a biomarker that would interact with tumor cells. Cancer cells produce specific kinds of proteins that alter the biomarker, and that interaction is detected when the patient pees on a stick. The whole process takes about an hour.

If you don’t think that’s awesome, read the last paragraph again. This test has been successful in animal studies, and could be a useful diagnostic tool that doesn’t require expensive equipment or trained personnel to perform it.

Read more here: