We’ve recently seen an increased number of positive news regarding a variety of treatments for cancer in dogs; now more studies have made progress in the diagnosis field of canine cancer as well. How about diagnosing it for your dog, yourself, at home?
Research is currently underway at Oregon State University, where a team of scientists have discovered a distinct group of proteins that show the occurrence of transitional cell carcinoma, the most frequent cause of bladder cancer in dogs, as reported on their own site. The research may potentially lead to a new type of analysis which could help future medicine in diagnosing the disease in both dogs and humans.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Analytical Chemistry [we’re late to the party, but at the time of this writing, no related publication is still available for viewing].
In more details
Bladder cancer is very hard to catch and is rarely diagnosed before it has had the chance to spread elsewhere through the body. It is most commonly found in several specific dog breeds, including collies, sheepdogs, and terriers, but has been found in other breeds as well.
There are a few different tests that are used to detect the disease in humans, but they are not very accurate and usually have a high percentage of false-positive readings. There are no screenings that are used strictly to test for bladder cancer in dogs, and many times it is too late for treatments to be effective by the time the problem has been detected and diagnosed.
Scientists at Oregon State University are now saying that with this discovery, an improved assay to detect the disease in both canines and humans should soon be possible. It can possibly even be made affordable enough to be used as an over-the-counter product. It would then allow to test the urine similarly to how home pregnancy screenings work. Scientists are also expecting this research to lead to new studies on innovative therapies to treat patients who are diagnosed with the disease.
“Research of this type should first help us develop a reliable assay for this cancer in dogs, and improve the chance the disease can be caught early enough that treatments are effective,” said Shay Bracha, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “However, this type of cancer is essentially the same in dogs and humans.”
“Dogs are an excellent model for human cancer research, and an assay that works with dogs should be directly relevant to creation of a similar assay for humans. We hope to make it inexpensive and convenient, something that people could use routinely to protect either the health of their pets or themselves.”
Bladder cancer is essentially the same in dogs and humans, so in this case dogs are an outstanding model for human cancer research. The primary aim now is to find an assay that works in dogs, and then it should be directly relevant to the creation of an assay to diagnose the disease in humans. The hope is to make it as inexpensive as possible; that way people could screen themselves and their dogs on a regular basis.
In order to complete the study, researchers used mass spectrometry and proteomics to identify 96 proteins that seem to be related to transitional cell carcinoma. It is a fairly common type of cancer found in canines, and is linked to the exposure to herbicides, pesticides, and poor quality pet food. In humans, it is most commonly linked to smoking.
Because chemotherapy and radiation treatments are normally ineffective, advanced stages of the disease – in both dogs and people – generally have a poor prognosis. Average survival time of patients with advanced-stage bladder cancer in both species is usually less than one year.
Scientists at the Oregon State University are continuing their research, but the 96 proteins that have been identified already have a 90 percent accuracy rating.
Research has also proven that not all 96 proteins are simply bio-markers, but some are part of the disease process itself. If they can identify the proteins that are necessary for the cancer to spread, they may open the door to new treatments and therapies that could greatly help in decreasing the number of patients lost to transitional cell carcinoma.