“Golden oldies” could unlock secrets of canine cancer

A new study hopes to identify regions in the canine genome that may contribute to cancer susceptibility

Pinpointing why some dogs get cancer and others do not is the focus of Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

To that end, researchers are seeking healthy “golden oldies”—golden retrievers older than 12 years old—to help determine potential risk factors that may lead to the development of cancers common in the breed.

The study’s research team aims to compare the genetics of dogs that died from cancer with the DNA of older golden retrievers that successfully avoided the disease.

“These older dogs will allow us to expedite our process so we can share meaningful results faster with veterinarians, dog owners, and researchers,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS. “Just one veterinary visit from each of these ‘golden oldies’ could make a world of difference to their breed and potentially every dog around the world.”

Specifically, the genetic comparison between the two groups will help identify regions in the canine genome that may contribute to cancer susceptibility, allowing the team to start analyzing study cancer samples sooner, Morris Animal Foundation says.

The information learned could help lead to genetic screening tests and targeted therapies for treatment, as well as recommendations for informed breeding to help reduce cancer rates over time.

While researchers will primarily be examining the dogs’ genetics, consideration will also be made regarding their environment (i.e. if they lived in a rural, urban, or suburban habitat) and lifestyle (i.e. whether they were primarily a working or companion animal).

Participating dogs must be purebred golden retrievers from the continental U.S. and preferably registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). For DNA extraction, each dog will have a blood sample drawn by their family veterinarian.

For more information on the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, click here.

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