July 18, 2012

White Dog and The White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday

White Dog said, “Some of those facts about the c  monster in yesterday’s post were awfully scary, momma. I hope people don’t think it is too big to beat and just give up.”

Quinn, who lives with the likely possibility that his seizures are caused by a frontal cortex tumor, responded. “Humans and their amazing minds have come up with new machines, ideas and tools to see into the tiniest parts of our living parts. They are studying what they discover and have found that we are not so different at all. Human, dogs, cats, piggies--all animals-- are so similar at the cellular level that scientists now know that cancer is cancer; not dog cancer or man cancer or cat cancer, but cancer. So every step forward we make in finding better ways to fight the evil c in any of us, helps every creature.”

“That is the hope you talk about with Comparative Oncology, right momma?” YoYoMa said. “And the day that cancer touches no creature is the day the world will be shiningly, amazingly, stunningly wonderful,” Puff finished.

With the help of K, Suka’s human from Suka’s Just Sayin’, we have put together a way to share the awesome potential of Comparative Oncology so that all of our readers, and those who Walk with us, understand why we can now dare to dream of a day when our hated foe, cancer, is vanquished. Please join us in our hope and excitement...

What is Comparative Oncology?
Comparative Oncology uses the study of naturally developing cancers in dogs as models for treating and better understanding cancer in humans. When a dog receives cancer treatments from his veterinarian the therapies used are similar to those used for humans, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biotherapy.  Comparative Oncology includes a population of dogs receiving cancer treatment for the study of human cancer. The idea is that what is learned from dogs can be applied to human cancers.

Isn’t this animal research?
No!  Unlike in traditional animal research, dogs used in comparative oncology research have developed their cancers naturally and have already been diagnosed with cancer before being admitted into clinical trials and studies.  They are never injected with the disease.

How will Comparative Oncology help dogs?
Dogs diagnosed with naturally occurring cancer and who are participants in clinical trials are given the benefit of cutting-edge research and therapeutics.  The majority of these cutting-edge treatments are designed with an extensive understanding of the biology of cancer.  As a result, pet owners can expect that their dogs          will tolerate these newer treatments better than most conventional forms of chemotherapy.  Comparative oncology also helps dogs with naturally occurring cancers by searching for alternatives when they do not respond to conventional treatments.

Will comparative Oncology help people?
Yes!  In many ways, through comparative oncology research, dogs will be taking the lead in the fight against cancer, and what we learn from them could possibly help your beloved human family member in their fight against cancer.

Dogs mirror our lives in so many ways – they breathe our same air, live in our homes, sleep on our furniture, eat some of our same  foods, and are exposed to our many varied emotions.  Perhaps it is because of this mirror-like quality that dogs get many of the same types of cancers as people and have similar responses to cancer-fighting drugs.  Sadly, dogs often have a shorter survival time than people.  However, this shorter survival time allows for researchers to see more quickly if a drug is making a difference and thus improvements to both human and pet cancer treatments can progress more rapidly.  Results from comparative oncology clinical trials will support the further development of human clinical trials as well as help researchers better understand the biology of cancer and how to improve the assessment of novel treatments for humans.  Comparative oncology truly benefits both dogs and people alike. 

Are any research projects underway?
Yes.  There are an increasing number of comparative oncology programs in America and below is a brief look at some research projects currently underway:

1.                   At the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, dogs may be the key to finding a cure for a deadly form of brain cancer.  Clinical trials on dogs with brain tumors are currently being conducted using novel approaches to stopping the progression of the disease: a combination of gene therapy and vaccines.  So far the therapy has been so successful, with an astonishing 95% of dogs treated having gotten better, that human trials were fast-tracked and are already seeing some successes.  Just how close is this therapeutic approach to resulting in a cure for brain cancer?  Dr. Ohlfest, a researcher, responded, “…I would call what we are doing – the comparative oncology approach - a giant leap.  We feel like we are getting closer to something that is going to be a breakthrough…”[From a CBS News segment entitled, “Man's Best Friend: Key to Brain Cancer Cure?” aired on December 5, 2011 (see link:  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7390631n)]

2.            A theory currently being tested at MB Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, is that you can take a dog with cancer and learn something about a human with the same type of cancer.  As Dr. Laurence Cooper explained, “We could use the same types of immune based therapies that we want to apply for humans and understand whether or not they work in the dog – it's a win-win.”  Working specifically to help children with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, dogs with the same cancer are receiving cutting-edge treatment in hope that what is learned on them can help the children.  [From an ABC News segment entitled, “Treating Cancer in Dogs and Kids” aired on February 8, 2012 (see link:  http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/treating-cancer-dogs-kids-15543352)]

3.            Using companion animal malignancies as a comparative model for human disease, the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research has recently launched the Center for Cancer Research - Comparative Oncology Program (CCR-COP).  The goal of this program is to include naturally occurring cancers seen in pet animals into studies of cancer biology and therapy.  [For more detailed information about CCR-COP please visit:  http://cancer.landofpuregold.com/the-pdfs/comparative-oncology-program.pdf]

4.            Cancer treatments span the species and doctors and veterinarians are now collaborating together in the field of Comparative Oncology, a field of research in which these investigators compare naturally occurring cancers in animals and people – exploring their striking resemblances as well as their notable differences.  Spontaneous cancers in dogs are an underused group of naturally occurring malignancies that share many features with human cancers such as osteosarcoma, prostate and breast cancers, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma, soft tissue sarcoma, head and neck carcinoma, and virally induced lymphoma.  Some more specific cancer features shared between dogs and people include breast cancer: the type that affects pet dogs spreads preferentially to bones, just as it does in women; and the most frequent bone cancer of pet dogs, osteosarcoma, is the same cancer that strikes teenagers.  When experimental drugs prove helpful in pets, researchers gain a leg up on knowing which therapies are most likely to aid human patients.  Some of the earliest work focused on saving the limbs of teenagers with bone cancer.  [For more information please visit:  http://cancer.landofpuregold.com/cop.htm]

5.            There are currently numerous clinical trials for cancer in pets being conducted across the U.S. in both University (academic) and private (such as hospital) settings.  To help navigate through this booming field of research the Veterinary Cancer Society has created a searchable clinical trial database (see link:  http://www.vetcancertrials.org/).  This site was designed for use by everyone who participates in the treatment of pet animals with cancer, including pet owners, general practice veterinarians, and oncologists and other specialty veterinarians.  The information provided on their site is two-fold: to inform both private practice and academic veterinarians, and to promote accrual for the timely completion of clinical trials while providing state-of-the-art treatment options for pets with cancer.  [For more detailed information on some current clinical trials, studies, and grants please visit http://cancer.landofpuregold.com/trials.htm]


Nola said...

Yet another great post, WDA!

Jeanne Pursell said...

We totally agree with Nola! Great post!!
Chloe and LadyBug

Brian said...

We all sure pray that the human brain will beat this evil monster.

Sagira said...

I sure hope with all the money raised they can find a cure. Thanks for all your hard work and sharing all this great info.

KB said...

I learned a lot about dog cancer treatment through K's battle. Did you know that the veterinary creed is that you don't give intense chemotherapy treatment that is likely to "cure" cancer because the veterinary world does not think that it's fair to put dogs through that treatment without their "consent". That's the main reason why dogs often tolerate chemotherapy better than humans.

That issue aside, I think that comparative oncology is a burgeoning field and it should help both dogs and people. It's much easier to get funding for dog cancer research if it might help humans. Due to that link, K was able to get her osteosarc tumors killed with radiation rather than amputation.

Great post - thought-provoking. I plan to make a donation to osteosarcoma research in K's memory. What a horrible disease. I didn't realize exactly how evil it was until her last week.

Tweedles -- that's me said...

When I read all of your words,,,, I translate it to this.