Researchers find cancer connection in humans and dogs

Scientists identified several gene mutations in dogs that could be clues to melanoma.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2019 9:48 AM

PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) -- Researchers in the Valley just made a groundbreaking discovery when it comes to cancer in dogs and humans.

Scientists at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) in Phoenix are studying melanoma and lung cancer in dogs and they just made an incredible find. They identified several gene mutations in dogs that could be clues to melanoma.

"We find overlap with our human counterparts but we often find something unique to the dog too," said Dr. William Hendricks from TGEN's Integrated Cancer Genomics Division.

Scientists at TGEN are also studying lung cancer in dogs. In that study, they made a major discovery.

"About 30 percent of these tumors are driven by a single gene. And that gene known as HER2 is an important cancer gene that's well understood in human cancer," said Dr. Hendricks.

Hendricks and his colleagues couldn't believe the HER2 gene showed up in dogs as well. The excitement was because this is groundbreaking on two levels.

First, HER2 is now connected to cancer in humans and dogs.

And second, there's already a drug to treat HER2 in humans so dogs can take that medicine right away to hopefully extend their lives. TGEN is not just looking into melanoma and lung cancer.

TGEN is also looking for similarities between humans and dogs when it comes to bone, lymphoma, and blood vessel cancers.

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