2001-Mon Dec 05 13:46:16 EST 2016
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Last month, the
Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine launched the
Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer (AURIC) with a million-dollar appropriation from the Alabama Legislature.
In my mind, this initiative is a positive step forward because money for cancer research is sorely needed, and the program expands on one of the most important ideas in veterinary medicine: the One Health Concept, which uses spontaneously occurring diseases in pets as models for the study of human disease.
As a veterinary oncologist who can extend the life of beloved pets — but only sometimes cure them of
cancer — I believe this money will help improve the quality and quantity of life for our companion animals. If the same money leads to new treatments for humans with cancer, then the
dog continues to be man’s best friend.
As appropriated, the million dollars will be allocated by a strategic planning committee and will be awarded, in part, as seed grants. A seed grant helps an investigator generate preliminary data to create a proposal. Investigators then compete to submit the best proposal to an outside funding agency in order to receive an even larger grant.
The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine also unveiled the Mike Hubbard Fund to support graduate-level training in cancer research, which has been identified as a critical need within the veterinary profession. Auburn gets two paws up for helping to meet this need.
Veterinarians have long embraced the One Health Concept, which views human and animal health as a single field in which discoveries geared toward one species advance health in both species.
“The street goes both ways with regards to research," says Dr. Bruce Smith, director of the AURIC. "Some studies in humans help animals, and some studies in animals help humans.”
Several facts make the dog especially important to cancer researchers. Estimates suggest that 4 million dogs get cancer every year — and many of them suffer from the same diseases that we do, including
lymphoma, melanoma and breast cancer. Scientists have cloned the canine genome, and studies have already been published linking certain genetic abnormalities that lead to cancer in
dogs — abnormalities that happen to be very similar to ones that cause cancer in humans.
The fact that dogs have shorter lifespans is a particular boon to cancer researchers because it means that outcomes are known sooner — and new information on cancer treatments becomes available faster compared with studies done on humans, who may live five to seven times longer.
To put a veterinary perspective on how much cancer research costs, I contacted the
Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), which launched the Canine Cancer Campaign in 2007 to prevent, treat and ultimately cure the disease in dogs. The campaign now funds 41 cancer-related studies in dogs and
cats. The aggregate financial commitment by the MAF: $6.4 million to support studies that focus on new technologies and genetics.
The bottom line: Cancer research costs big dollars, and while those suffering from cancer owe the Alabama Legislature a big thank you for admirably appropriating a million dollars to a worthy cause, it will take more — much more — to tackle the problem of cancer in pets and people.
If your oncologist suggests that your pet could qualify for a clinical trial, consider it. Your pet will be contributing to the scientific process, potentially leading to a breakthrough in treatment. If you can, please support cancer research, especially now that you know both animals and humans will benefit.
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a practicing veterinarian for 25 years, is board-certified in both oncology and internal medicine. She maintains her clinical practice at The Animal Medical Center in New York City, providing primary care to her long-term patients and specialty care to pets with cancer and blood disorders.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
Christmas trees, fatty foods and other
seasonal items may bring cheer to your
home, but they'll cause harm to your…
Dr. Sarah Wooten takes a closer look at
this curious sleeping habit and what it has
to do with canines’ ancestry.
The Kromfohrlander is said to be
descended from a mixed-breed dog
who was a mascot for American troops.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.