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University of Minesota Research Discovery May Help Combat Bone Cancer

Posted: August 2, 2011, 7:15 p.m., EDT

Canine Health FoundationA University of Minnesota discovery could lead to better treament methods to help canine and human bone cancer patients fight the disease more effectively.

Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, Modiano laboratory principal investigator at University of Minnesota, discovered a gene pattern that distinguishes the more severe form of bone cancer from a less aggressive form in dogs. Dogs are the only other species besides humans that frequently and spontaneously develops this disease.

Dogs have a higher incidence of bone cancer than humans. However, according to Modiano, who specializes in the relationship between animal and human disease, human and canine forms of bone cancer are very similar and the gene pattern is an exact match. The discovery of this key differentiating signature may be beneficial in the treatment planning of human bone cancer patients.

“Our findings pave the way to develop laboratory tests that can predict the behavior of this tumor in dogs and children at the time of diagnosis,” Dr. Modiano said. “This allows us to tailor individualized therapy to meet the patient’s needs.”

University off Minnesota researchers plan to use their findings to develop useful lab tests for humans and for companion animals that will help clinical care providers determine the type of cancer a patient faces.

Magnification micrograph of a high-grade osteosarcoma.

Magnification micrograph of a high-grade osteosarcoma.
Photo by Nephron

Depending on which type of cancer a patient has, clinicians could adjust interventions and treatment plans accordingly.

“Patients with less aggressive disease could be treated conservatively, reducing the side effects and the risks associated with treatment, while patients with more aggressive disease could be treated with more intense therapy,” Modiano said.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the Kate Koogler Canine Cancer Fund.

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