The Animal Health Trust is the only UK charity with a dedicated research programme to address cancer in dogs, and their focus at the moment is to understand how tumours spread by studying biopsies of common types of tumour that behaved in different ways. The team have spent the last 12 months identifying biomarkers that will predict with 90% certainty whether a mast cell tumour or oral malignant melanoma is a tumour that will spread. The hope is that this research will eventually result in a routine test that vets can use to predict whether such tumours will spread, giving them a better chance of choosing the correct treatment plan for the dog. Furthermore, the researchers hope that some of the biomarkers may be good targets for new drugs designed to prevent the spread of tumours. The AHT researchers are also in the midst of determining inherited genetic risk factors that cause some dog breeds to have an increased risk of developing a particular cancer, and have just identified an inherited genetic variant carried by 70% of Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers that raises the risk of mast cell tumours developing.
“AHT research focussing on spread of cancer tumours in dogs“
Dr Mike Starkey, Head of Cancer Research at the Animal Health Trust, said: “This work is so very important because research is the only way to address cancer. Ultimately we are aiming to prevent dogs from losing their lives to cancer, and to reduce the number of dogs that develop cancer. We are very grateful to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and Zoe’s Journey UK for their support of our work as there is just so much to do, but we are making progress and that is very positive.”