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Dogs could be the missing link for understanding brain cancer

Diffuse gliomas are a common form of brain cancer. They develop in the central nervous system and affect glial cells in the brain.

Doctors find these tumors notoriously difficult to treat, and survival rates are low, with only 5% of people surviving for 5 years or more.

There is an undeniable gap in knowledge about these cancers. Scientists do not understand their molecular pathology or how the glial cells progress to malignancy.

Dogs and cancer

Dogs have played a significant role in the development of human civilization, and in modern times remain as close to humans as ever.

However, dogs are as susceptible to developing gliomas as humans are.

Previous research has shown that adult dogs often develop these cancers at around the same age in human years as children, suggesting that there may be a link between brain age and glioma development.

So far, studies into diffuse gliomas have relied on in vivo mouse models. However, the pathology of glioma development in a mouse’s brain is very different from that in a human or dog brain.

Human and dog glioma pathology have many similarities, which means that dogs could provide the best model yet to help scientists understand these types of cancer.

Prof. Roel Verhaak at Jackson Laboratories in Maine has found that gliomas in dogs may help scientists better understand the complex pathology of diffuse gliomas.

The team published their findings in Cancer Cell.

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