A Best Friend

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

NOVEMBER 01, 2017

The title of this entry should be Man's Best Friend, but the system won't accept anything with punctuation. I am, of course, referring to dogs. Those of you who know me are aware that I am very much a dog person, living now with a much loved elderly Golden. She has been a perfect dog from the start, and it clearly has to do with genes, not training. We did not try to train her differently than we did others, and no previous dogs have been anywhere close to her gentle perfect behavior.

With that context, it is easy to understand why I so love this story from Globe STAT:

How beagles and goldens could help researchers find the next cancer therapy for humans

By Usha Lee McFarling 

Radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Kent desperately wants to beat cancer. He’s testing the latest high-tech treatments in clinical trials and using a multimillion-dollar linear accelerator so he can offer the best care to patients — whether they’re beagles, golden retrievers, or the black and white terrier mix named Moo he’s now treating for a recurrent tumor in her paw.

Kent is a veterinarian. Frustrated by the lack of treatment options for dogs with certain tumors and cancers that have metastasized, he’s searching hard for new treatments to extend the lives of his patients. But because the biology of dogs and humans is so similar, what he finds here at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine could well help treat human cancers as well.

“For a long time, we’ve looked at humans to see how to treat dogs,” Kent said. “We’re starting to do a little bit of the reverse now.”

This field of comparative medicine — using animals to better understand and treat human disease — is not new; creatures such as mice1, rats2, and actual guinea pigs have long been the mainstay of medical research and studies of experimental drugs. What’s different is that veterinarians are now conducting rigorous clinical trials of new treatments with the hope they might eventually benefit humans as well as the family pet.

Increasingly, they’re using dogs and cats and other companion animals in these experiments, as medical researchers recognize the limitations of traditional lab animals.

Read more: https://www.statnews.com/2017/10/04/dogs-cancer-treatment-humans/

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