Consortium to study cancer in dogs

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Two private institutes have created the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium to study cancer in dogs.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix and Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich., are partnering on the project with the National Cancer Institute, University of Pennsylvania, and Michigan State University.

Most of the funding comes from a $4.3 million grant for cancer research through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Hill's Pet Nutrition and PetSmart each contributed $500,000.

The consortium will collect saliva, blood, and tumor samples from dogs with the consent of owners. The goal is to identify genes that influence cancers in dogs and humans.

The Van Andel Research Institute already had been studying hemangiosarcoma in Clumber Spaniels with support from the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation. Now the program will expand to the study of osteosarcoma, oral melanoma, malignant histiocytosis, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and as many as 20 breeds of dogs.

A relevant but separate consortium was formed several years ago to study cancer in dogs. The Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium is collecting tumor samples from dogs for a central repository at the National Cancer Institute. A number of veterinary colleges are participating in the project.