Here's How Dogs May Be Able To Help Us Treat Cancer

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
Woman Gives Her Goldendoodle A Nice Scratch

Image by Cara Dolan / Stocksy

Dogs are great: They love unconditionally, are extremely loyal, and, according to a new study, they may help us cure cancer. New research looking at tumors in dogs may actually give us the key to treatment for canines and humans alike. 

Diffuse glioma is the most common malignant tumor that can grow in the brain, with high rates of recurrence and negative patient prognoses. This type of tumor affects not only humans but dogs, too. In fact, dogs develop gliomas spontaneously about as frequently as humans do. 

Because of this information, researchers decided to study the evolution of a canine glioma tumor to compare with a human. Using the structure of tumors in dogs They conducted an analysis of the two progressions, comparing the molecular profiles to see how the canine glioma evolved in contrast to a pediatric or adult human glioma.

The scientists were surprised to see significant resemblances between the two—the study cited them as being similar in "mutation rate and DNA methylation." According to the study, "Our cross-species comparative genomic analysis provides unique insights into glioma etiology and the chronology of glioma-causing somatic alterations." With this information, researchers will be able to conduct more studies to examine the effectiveness of various treatments for gliomas. 

According to the director of research communications at the Jackson Laboratory, Mark Wanner, "While the veterinarian's office is somewhat different from both human medical and basic research settings, dogs represent a potentially effective model for humans."

Research like this provides important insight for patients and pets alike, with the potential to improve future treatment for gliomas in the brain. Lead author Roel Verhaak, Ph.D., tells mbg, "We hope to leverage our results for development of therapies that can benefit both children and dogs. Our next step will be to conduct further studies on the common molecular drivers of dog and pediatric gliomas."

If you need any more convincing, read up on some of the health benefits of having a dog.

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