Can Researchers Use Dogs to Study Lymphoma?

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North Carolina State University researchers are offering a new twist on testing and searching for genes involved in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Due to the similar genetic makeup between dogs and humans, specialists at N.C. State have now begun to use canines as subjects for the purposes of learning more about lymphoma.

The research, which was published in the journal Leukemia and Lymphoma, notes the genetic information from dogs with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and then proceeds to “recode” the genomes of the dogs as if they were human.

“This is the first time that we were able to compare this information from dogs with lymphoma directly with existing data from human patients diagnosed with the equivalent cancer and using the same technique,” said Dr. Rachael Thomas, research assistant professor of molecular biomedical sciences at NC State and lead author of the paper.

Dr. Matthew Breen, professor of genomics at North Carolina State had this to say on the research:

“In essence, we stripped the background noise from the human data,” Breen says. “Lymphoma genomics is a lot more complex in human patients than in dog patients. This study tells us that while both humans? and dogs? have comparable disease at the clinical and cellular level, the genetic changes associated with the same cancers are much less complex in the dog.

“This suggests that maybe there is a lot of genetic noise in the human cancers that are not essential components of the process. While human studies have been looking in numerous places in the genome, the dog data indicate we need to focus on what’s shared, and these are very few regions.”

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