Searching for clues to cancer resistance
For years, cancer researchers have focused their investigations on why we and our pets get cancer. Scientists concentrated on understanding cancer cell growth, new diagnostic strategies and better treatment options. Until recently, scientists weren’t that interested in studying the “whys” behind cancer resistance.
Now, researchers are rethinking that position and looking more carefully at cancer-free individuals, families, and animal species in an attempt to unlock the secrets of cancer resistance. Keys to stopping cancer might lie hidden somewhere in those animals or people who don’t develop the disease.
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study offers researchers a unique window to see diseases develop and progress over the lifetime of a group of closely monitored dogs. Although the study will focus on cancer development within the study group, disease-free dogs also will provide valuable comparative information.
By collecting large amounts of very precise data repeatedly over the course of a lifetime, patterns emerge that can then be correlated back to health status. Once these correlations are analyzed, recommendations can be made regarding lifestyle changes that could decrease cancer risk. Samples such as blood, hair and tissue provide additional cellular data to researchers for analysis. Combining this data with the lifestyle data will give veterinary cancer researchers a powerful tool for assessing cancer risk.
It’s easy to focus on disease development and forget that absence of disease can be just as powerful in evaluating cancer risk. It reminds all of us how every Hero dog in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is an equal partner in this process, even if they are cancer free.
An excellent review of cancer resistance can be found at http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42469/title/Resisting-Cancer/.