Many initiatives have begun with the goal to end cancer. Since tumors are very complex, down to their molecular design, researchers never claim to be finding a ‘cure.’ That task is simply too broad and frankly impossible to attempt, that is if you know the nature of cancer.
The Cancer Moonshot Initiative was begun during the years of the Obama administration. The goal here is not to cure cancer, but to end its reign of terror, meaning a cancer diagnosis would no longer be a death sentence but a treatable illness.
They have worked with multiple funders to do thorough and aggressive testing for cancer. Their new approach is making a premiere, using immunotherapy and the help of our furry four-legged friends.
Combining Human And Canine Cancer Research
Dogs develop cancer, just like humans. Some cancers are the exact same in dogs and humans, but it is not always the exact types that emerge in humans. The field of comparative oncology is finding the relation between human and canine cancers to find methods of treatment that could save both.
When devising treatments for humans with cancer, if real development is made, it will not equally work for a dog’s tumor. By using information sets from dogs and humans, cures can carry over through different species. This means a more versatile treatment, which hopefully will open avenues to treatments for all sorts of cancers. By doing it this way, the two fields can also combine research to produce testable, safe drugs.
Combining research like this is a way of doubling manpower and funds while still focusing on each lab’s specific research. Within the last ten years, more than ten drugs to treat cancer have come from canine study research.
Let’s look at the FDA approved cancer drug Xpovio, for example. It is only prescribed if at least five other treatments have already failed because it is still at an experimental level. This drug has a veterinary counterpart which is being created to treat lymphoma in dogs but doubles as an antiviral therapy for people.
The Key To Curing Cancer Could Be Preventing It
The immune system is the main aspect of cancer prevention being studied at Moonshot. They do tests to further the capabilities of the immune system and pumping up the bodies natural defense to give it the power to fight carcinogens.
Moonshot performed a trial at the University of Alabama for a virus given to participants that infiltrates cancer cells. Thus, your immune system is alerted to the virus and attacks both the injection and the tumor cells it is hidden within.
The exact time in a tumor’s life that the immune system is capable of combating it is not known to cancer research communities. There is a time when the immune system would be alerted to the growth, and want to cure it. However, after a particular stage, there is nothing your natural defenses can do. Researchers are trying to suss out this timeline to make treatment more effective.
Dogs And Their High Cancer Rates
The genomic sequencing of dogs is considered important in determining the specific mutations that become cancer. Determining this process in dogs can then be compared to human genomic sequencing to find the key to identifying and eliminating different types of cancers. Dogs develop cancer at much higher rates than humans.
If the dog reaches ten years old, then they have a 50% chance of developing cancer. Since this is a large percentage, mass amounts of dogs exist to have these clinical trials performed, or even just researched upon. More test subjects mean more opportunities to learn all that we can about different treatments and conditions before translating that research into the human body’s needs.
Humans and Dogs are connected through cancer research, since there are everyday similarities we share with canines. We share water sources with them, they are in large cities with factories, and they are subject to many more of the same elements humans are.
Largest Cancer Canine Clinical Begins
The Open Philanthropy Project funded the 6.4 million dollar research of a drug that does not work to ‘cure’ cancer, but attempts to prevent it. Stephen Johnston of the Arizona State Center for Innovations in Medicine was granted the resources for the study. This is a trial using 800 dogs, with eight types of cancer, and will help see if this cancer vaccine is viable. Vaccines have been created to target tumors in the past, but none have been successful.
This large trial will have important results, whether it works or not. It was announced to begin in June, and with all of the dogs involved, the amount of data will be huge. It will take time to collect results and decipher them, but could hold the key to further steps. If these vaccines are shown to work in canines, it won’t be long before a human version of the vaccination is in the works.
Moonshot and Johnston are focused on the capabilities of our immune systems treating tumors. Through this and combining cancer research on canines, real cancer-fighting drugs are created. Canine cancer is troubling to many citizens.
The shortness of a dog’s life is known to cause trauma to their owners, especially if entire families are attached. More than one family court mediation has occurred because of declining pet health. Prolonging cancer in dogs will help them live longer, more fulfilled lives.
Of course, all of these experiments are in an effort to help the betterment of cancer in humans. However, if this research prevents cancer in dogs as well, why wouldn’t we want to implement the vaccines? These combined studies are mutually beneficial to both causes. So, oddly enough, funding for dog studies creates real results for human cancer research.
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