Dog Genome May Provide Cancer Insight

Dr. Matthew Breen is researching the dog genome to gain knowledge of cancer in humans.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: August 7, 2014, 4 p.m. PST

Dogs are often referred to as "man’s best friend.” They’re great companions to the lonely. They assist those in need be it leading the blind or alerting diabetes sufferers that their insulin is low. Dogs warn us of danger. How many times have dogs been in the news for notifying homeowners of a fire or rescuing a person or other animal?

Now we have one more thing to add to the long list of things that make dogs great.

The North Carolina State University veterinary research team, led by Dr. Matthew Breen, is researching genomes in dogs in hopes of better understanding cancer in humans.

After assisting in the canine genome mapping, Dr. Breen and his lab team discovered "a remarkable level of similarity between the genome sequence of a domestic dog and the genome sequence of a human being.”

Breen also said in the video (above) that there are additional similarities. Domestic dogs and humans share the same environment, which includes air, water and sometimes food. These similarities led to the conclusion that if a dog were to get cancer, the disease would behave in almost the exact same way as it does in people.

According to Breen, rare cancers in people don’t get much, if any, research time and money. However, these cancers are often common in dogs. The research Breen’s team does at his lab could provide answers to treating and possibly curing the disease in humans.

If successful, this could be a major breakthrough in cancer research.

To read more about Breen’s research, click here.

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