According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI), “comparative oncology is an integrative approach to learn more about naturally occurring cancers in different species.” Of those species, dogs have similarity of genes, accelerated aging processes and, therefore, development of cancers linked to aging, respond similarly to treatment, and receive a level of medical care that mimics human healthcare. In addition, pets and people develop many of the same types of cancers, including brain, lung, skin, and bone cancer and the biology of people and dogs, as well as the tumors that grow in each species, are similar in many ways.

Pets and people both, enrolled in clinical trials that provide access to cutting-edge therapies, enhance quality of life while on treatment, extend survival times and cure rates, and quicken the pace of new therapeutic development.  According to WIRED author Michele Cohen Marill, “Why Dogs Now Play a Big Role in Human Cancer Research” (7/12/19), “at least 10 new cancer drugs for people have been developed with input from canine studies.” Especially in metastatic disease, pet and human cancers are driven by similar genetic mutations and follow similar pathways.

Cancer researchers in the human field have been developing targeted/personalized treatment for cancer to the specific genetic mutation a person has, progress made in large part because of the development of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) in the last decades. However, genomic cancer research for dogs has lagged behind due in large part to insufficient research funding.

Cancer drugs, particularly for pediatric cancers and rare adult cancers, still fail 99% of the time to come to market due to the time they take to develop, the cost to manufacture, and disappointing results in effectiveness in clinical trial. That’s right, only 1% of treatments come to the clinic – and fewer are developed for our pets with cancer.  Animal Cancer Foundation has been funding comparative oncology research since 1999, because we believe that novel genomic research including The Canine Cancer Genome Project (CCGP) sponsored by Blue Buffalo Foundation (BBF) and Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) will add information to the genomic sequence of dogs, enhance the ability to understand cancer mutations in dogs, and structure the comparison between dog and human cancer. The cost to create The Canine Genome Atlas has been significantly reduced since the human atlas was first created.

Together BBF and ACF have funded Phases I and II of the project, and we are on our way to funding Phase III, the complete characterization of seven canine cancer genomes to be placed in the public domain for use by all cancer researchers.

We couldn’t have done it without your unwavering support and we’re asking you to support us once again, see if your employer offers a matching gift program, and help to spread the word that a donation to Animal Cancer Foundation is an investment in the future success of cancer treatment for all of us.