Tag Archives: DNA

Dogs are providing clues to human breast cancer

pixabay cocker spanielDogs are often called man’s best friend. In this case, dogs are helping humans more than you might think! Dogs can be a great model for understanding cancer, because they develop cancer spontaneously, and in this case, cocker spaniels may be able to help researchers better understand human breast cancer.

Recently, the epigenome of the cocker spaniel has been characterized. Researchers compared dog and human epigenetic changes, and found that when looking at breast cancer, the same regions of DNA are affected in dogs and humans.

So, why is this important? Discovering common mechanisms can help both humans and dogs in future research studies. It’s possible that targeting these epigenetic changes could help slow disease progression, and dogs may be able to help us understand this faster. And ultimately, understanding more about the connection between canine and human cancer will benefit both species.

Read more about this research here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/ibri-deg100214.php

Canine melanoma vaccine coming soon!

jackrussellpixabayThe first therapeutic vaccine for cancer has been conditionally licensed by the USDA! And man’s best friend will benefit from it. This vaccine is intended as a treatment for dogs with stage II or stage III oral melanoma, and hopefully, it will dramatically improve the quality of life for pets suffering from this type of cancer.

Canine oral melanoma is very aggressive and can be difficult to treat. Melanoma tumors contain a protein called tyrosinase, and the¬†vaccine works by introducing human tyrosinase into the dog’s body, which stimulates an immune response against the protein.

Because canine oral melanoma affects a small percentage of the dog population, using a vaccine as a treatment instead of a preventative seems to be the best option at this point. But if veterinarians were able to determine certain breeds or populations of dogs that were at risk, it’s possible that this treatment could be modified for use as a preventative vaccine.

By starting with a vaccine treatment for oral melanoma, it’s possible that this could lead to the development of vaccine treatments for other types of cancer. Interestingly, this development first began with basic animal research, moved into research in human treatments, and now it’s back to animals by benefiting man’s best friend! Who knows- this may lead to the development of human melanoma treatments. Read more about it here:

http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-dept/canine-practice/canine-melanoma-vaccine-gets-conditional-ok.aspx

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.