Four million dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year.
One canine cancer patient, Kyra, is not only a survivor of cancer but she is helping researchers in their search for a cancer vaccine.
Two years ago, Kyra’s owner noticed a lump on this ten-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback’s leg. Kyra’s owner, a nurse, knew right away that her dog had lymphoma.
Kyra’s owner enrolled her in a revolutionary vaccine study at the University of Pennsylvania where veterinarians and human oncologists were working together.
For these researchers, working with dogs has been extremely helpful because canine cancer is very similar to human cancer. The cancer looks, behaves, and responds to treatment similarly.
Since dogs age faster, scientists can receive results of their studies at a quicker rate.
With Kyra, doctors took genetic material from the cancerous tumor and implanted it in healthy infection-fighting b-cells outside the body to train them to attack the lymphoma, and then injected it back into Kyra.
Now, Kyra is back to her healthy and normal self. Both Kyra and several other dogs in the study are cancer-free.
Scientists estimate that they are within two years of testing the vaccine on humans.
One scientist said, “If we didn’t have this information that we’re learning from vaccinating people’s pets, we would still be studying the vaccine in laboratory dishes without a real hope of going forward in the near future.”
Kyra’s owner added that someday when this vaccine is given to people, she can tell them it came from man’s best friend.
Source: ABC News