Cancer in dogs similar to those in humans

Yet another way dogs are proving to be man's best friend. New research shows certain types of cancer in dogs are remarkably similar to those in humans.

Scientists say curing cancer in dogs could help us in the future.

Tracy Jenkins knows her Australian shepherd is one lucky dog. Just a year ago "Bear" was facing a scary situation.

Tracy says, "We started feeling a little something on his salivary gland, like in his throat on the right side, and it just grew pretty quickly."

Like 6 million other dogs each year, Bear was diagnosed with cancer. He was enrolled in a clinical trial to study a cancer drug made specifically for dogs.

Dr. Cheryl London of Ohio State's Veterinary Medical Center helped test that drug. And after seeing the striking similarities between some dog and human cancers, she now runs a clinic dedicated to finding cures for both.

Dr. London says, "The goal of what we do in dogs and cats with cancer is to try to evaluate new therapies before they make it into humans with cancer, so that we can better inform the human side about what drugs might work."

In fact, after seeing how well the drug worked in dogs like bear, scientists developed an almost identical drug for humans, the first ever to be approved simultaneously for two different types of cancer.

Dr. London says, "We have three pharmaceutical companies right now that are having us test new drugs prior to entering the human clinical arena. And they're asking us to tell them - what are the side effects? What is the activity of this drug? How best can it be used."

And by helping to answer those questions, dogs like bear could be leading researchers down the right path for treating humans in the future.

Bear is now cancer free.

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