The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a “Grand Opportunities” grant to the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) of Grand Rapids, Mich. The grant will allow the institute to expand its canine cancer studies, which started with a project partially funded by the Canine Health Foundation focusing on hemangiosarcoma in Clumber Spaniels.
As such, VARI, along with the Translational Genomics Research Institute, has launched the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium (CHCC), an alliance of veterinarians, scientists and physicians that will integrate genomic studies of dogs with phenotypic and pharmacologic tests to predict therapies for human disease.
“This strategy leverages the low genetic diversity of purebred dogs coupled with their predisposition for particular cancers to identify the underlying genetic lesions and biochemical pathways that contribute to these diseases, and then translate these discoveries to humans,” according to CHCC.
Over the course of the next two years, the CHCC will focus its efforts on investigating the genetic causes of several cancers, including but not limited to, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, melanoma, malignant histiocytic sarcoma and lymphoma.
In order to move forward, the CHCC and the Canine Health Foundation are asking veterinarians and pet owners for their help by submitting tumor and blood samples of affected dogs.
In short, the CHCC requires the following for participation in the study:
• Dogs must have a diagnosis of cancer from a licensed veterinarian and be in good enough health to tolerate diagnostic procedures (i.e. radiographs, blood draw and biopsy) and treatment. The affected dog can be male or female, intact or spayed/neutered.
• Dogs must be at least 4 months of age.
• Tumor samples are being accepted from both mixed breed and purebred dogs. Blood samples are being accepted only from purebred dogs since the studies are focusing on the DNA within and between breeds of dogs, according to the CHCC.
• Veterinarians must contact the CHCC at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled procedure. Special shipping media, materials and pertinent instructions will be shipped overnight, via Federal Express, to the attending veterinarian.
• The owner of the affected dog must read and sign a VARI Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium General Owner Consent Form.