Dog genes can pave way for cancer cure in humans: Study

Now, canine friends can pave way for cancer cure in humans. Photo: IANS

New York: A team from the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, and the University of Georgia, conducted the largest-ever genomic sequencing study of canine tumours and identified dog genes that can hold potential cure for cancer in humans.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, examined real-world clinical genomic data from 671 pet dogs with cancer across the US and analysed tumour samples to identify genetic mutations driving canine cancers.

These samples were then compared to a large database of nearly 25,000 human tumour samples to identify overlapping mutations between the two species.

The researchers identified 18 mutation "hotspots" that are likely primary drivers of canine cancers. Although 10 of these hotspots have not been previously reported in humans, the remaining eight were shared by humans and dogs.

Many of these hotspots can also be targeted with small molecule drugs that are already approved for human cancer patients. This means canine cancer patients will have increased access to highly effective precision treatments that can replace or augment traditional one-size-fits-all approaches such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

At the same time, the genetic data from canine tumours can accelerate the development of precision cancer drugs for humans. The findings also showed several previously unreported mutation hotspots in canine cancers, demonstrating their ability to reliably predict whether a tumour is somatic or germline based on tumour tissue alone.

"This study provides the most comprehensive genomic sequencing data on canine cancers, including several previously unsequenced types, and serves as a much-needed resource for comparative oncology," said Shaying Zhao, a professor at the University of Georgia and a co-author of the study.

By addressing the significant gap in genomic data on canine cancers, this study also ushers in an era of precision veterinary medicine through clinical genomics. Prior to this study, fewer than 2,000 canine tumours had been genetically sequenced. This study alone increased the number of canine tumours that have been sequenced by more than 33 per cent, the researchers said.

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