Wet kisses from manâ€™s best friend could soon be showing us more than love. Researchers have found that the DNA on Fidoâ€™s tongue could be the key to new treatments for rare cancers in both humans and dogs. The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), developed the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium, to understand why people and their pets get sick.
The study used saliva, blood and tumor samples of dogs volunteered by private pet owners for testing in hopes that by studying canine cancer, oncologists can determine the cause of human cancers.
“Rare diseases in humans also show up in dogs. By studying the DNA of canines, we expect to more quickly discover the genomic causes of disease and more quickly find ways to better treat dogs, and people,” said Dr. Mark Neff, director of the new TGen-VARI Program for Canine Health and Performance.
The testing will be animal-safe, and is approved by the American Kennel Club and Morris Animal Foundation. Funding will be supported by private donors, and by a $4.3 million dollar federal stimulus grant. Cancer is the cause of death for nearly 50 percent of all dogs older than 10-years-old.
“We’re proud to be part of such an innovative approach that fully supports our mission of providing total lifetime care for pets, and one that will offer hope to people and dogs who are suffering from these illnesses,” said Phil Francis, executive chairman of PetSmart.