Research roundup: Can canine osteosarcoma be a research model that impacts human outcomes?

June 27, 2019

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in humans and dogs, but is much more common in dogs. Researchers have long looked at using knowledge gained from studying dogs affected by osteosarcoma to improve human outcomes. However, according to a team of University of Minnesota researchers led by Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, understanding the differences in osteosarcoma tumors in dogs and humans is essential to deciphering effective treatment for both species. In their research, the scientists observed many differences in how osteosarcoma develops in each species. Even though the clinical progression of osteosarcoma is similar in both species, the disease-causing genetic mutations are different in dogs than they are in humans. The team concluded that since dogs and humans live longer now—due to improved health care, nutrition, etc.—they are at greater risk for cancer, which holds true for all species. They also concluded that canine osteosarcoma can be a model for human osteosarcoma when asking research questions that fall within the areas where the diseases are similar. Even though bone cancer is the most stark example of a cancer that forms when dogs and humans outlive their evolutionarily natural timelines, the same principle likely applies to every other cancer that would occur in both dogs and humans.

Read more in the June 2019 issue of Veterinary Sciences.