Study Finds Osteosarcoma Genetic Parallels Between Dogs and Humans

According to a story from Science Daily, a recent study has found that osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, displays similar genetic characteristics when it appears in both humans and dogs. The study was conducted via a partnership between the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Tufts University. Such comparative studies could help develop more effective therapies for osteosarcoma, a form of cancer which can be challenging to treat effectively.

About Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a type of rare bone cancer that most commonly appears in teens and young adults. While rare, it is nevertheless the most common type of cancer to originate in bone in humans. Risk factors for this type of cancer include family history, exposure to radiation, previous bone diseases, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Osteosarcoma often appears near areas where bone is growing; in young people, the area near the knee is commonly affected. Signs and symptoms of this cancer may include pain around the affected area that may worsen at night, a sudden breakage that occurs without much pressure (the disease weakens bone structure and makes breaks much more likely), or a swollen area. Treatment for osteosarcoma often includes surgical removal of the affected bone, chemotherapy, and the drug mifamurtide. Survival rate varies considerably depending on the circumstances of the case, but rates of long term survival have increased in recent years. To learn more about osteosarcoma, click here.

Osteosarcoma in Dogs vs Humans

Treatment for this type of rare cancer has been relatively stagnant for around thirty years. While osteosarcoma is relatively rare in humans, it is substantially more prevalent in many dog breeds, making them ideal candidates for comparative study. Using the genomes of 59 individual canines, the researchers found that the cancer displays many of the same characteristics that are apparent when it appears in human patients, such as distinctive genetic characteristics in metastasizing (spreading) tumors, relatively low mutation rates, alterations to cellular pathways, and considerable structural complexity. 

The scientists also found mutations in the SETD2 and DMD genes that could trigger the development of the disease in dogs. This research sets the stage for further comparative osteosarcoma study with dogs. Check out the original research in the academic journal Communications Biology.

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