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Fetching a Cure for Cancer

Golden retrievers are highly susceptible to cancers arising in the blood, lymphatic and vascular systems, cancers that also afflict humans.  NC State is partnering with a team of researchers from the U.S. and Europe to find out why these dogs — and by extension, their owners — get cancer.

golden retriever asleep on sofa
After a hard day of retrieving and cancer-curing, Fido takes a much-deserved nap.

The researchers’ goal is to discover the genes and genetic changes that lead to about one in five golden retrievers getting hemangiosarcoma, a rare, rapidly growing cancer of the cells that form blood vessels, and about one in eight golden retrievers contracting lymphoma, a cancer of a part of the immune system called the lymphatic system. In addition, the scientists will determine why golden retrievers are predisposed to the cancers, how the risk could be reduced, and whether DNA tests could aid in diagnosis and treatment. They will also study the mutations that occur in the tumors and their susceptibility to chemotherapy to identify the treatments most effective against the cancers.

Dr. Matthew Breen, professor of genomics at NC State and one of the world’s top canine cancer researchers, is helping to lead this project, and he says that this represents a “golden” opportunity to further our knowledge about what predisposes dogs to certain types of cancer, as well as advance our understanding of human cancers.

The research is funded by a three-year, $1 million grant from the Morris Animal Foundation and the Golden Retriever Foundation.