The idea of a dog helping to find a cure for cancer probably conjures images of golden retrievers sniffing blood samples and sitting dutifully in front of the cancerous specimen. But though their noses are valuable, there’s something much more useful hidden inside purebred pups: their own tumors.

Roughly a quarter of all purebred dogs die of cancer, and 45 percent of those who live past the age of 10 succumb to one variety or another. Modern chemotherapies have allowed some of these dogs to get treatment, just like a human would. Those therapies work so well because canine cancers are so close to human tumors.

“For the most part, dogs get everything we do,” says Elaine Ostrander, a distinguished investigator at the National Institutes of Health and chief of its Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch. “You see some striking similarities that you don’t see in mice or other animal models, and that makes them an increasingly terrific system to study the genetic basis of disease.”

Dogs aren’t just an excellent disease model because they happen to get the same cancers. They’re also incredibly genetically similar to one another. Why? Because we’ve bred them that way. …Read the full story at Popular Science

Source: Popular Science