Researchers turn to dogs to test cancer therapies

For years researchers have achieved exciting results treating cancer in genetically engineered mouse models, only to find that efficacy tumbles to a marginal rate once the same therapy is tried in humans. But now a growing number of researchers are turning to dogs to take the place of mice in animal cancer studies.

Dogs, they say, are innately superior to mice as a treatment subject. Dogs develop cancer spontaneously, unlike the genetically crafted mice, and dogs are also genetically more of a match for humans. That argument has won over the U.S. National Cancer Institute, which is evaluating the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs in dogs.

In one case, researchers have been studying the effects of nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl) on dogs. The therapy is designed to block the function of B12 receptors on cells, blunting metastasis. For a golden retriever named Buddy, the therapy was linked to a 40 percent reduction in tumor size after 10 months of treatment.

"This helps my animal patients have access to treatments they wouldn't have access to otherwise," Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City tells HealthDay. "We look at this as a benefit to both species."

- read the report in HealthDay