New study on dogs leads to cancer cure hope

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Scientists hope a cure for the disease might be on the horizon after a new drug was found to work on dogs. An antibody that vastly improved the pets’ survival rates by boosting their immune systems could be a big breakthrough against the most common male cancer, they say.

Dr Shingo Maeda, the lead researcher of a study by Tokyo University, said dogs were a far better scientific model than the typical lab animals, mice.

He said: “The prostate glands of dogs share a great deal of similarities with those of people.

“They are actually the only other animal that suffers from a significant incidence of prostate cancer.

“The cancer has very similar clinical features, including late-age onset and the pattern of cancer growth, to that in humans.”

It is the first time dogs have been used to study aggressive prostate cancer.

Experts pinpointed white blood cells that block a gene known as CCR4 that fuels tumours.

They then used them to clone mogamulizumab, an antibody drug that attacks the immune system cells called Tregs, which help spread the cancer.

An antibody that vastly improved the pets’ survival rates by boosting their immune systems could be a big breakthrough against the most common male cancer

Scientists found Tregs circulated less in dogs with naturally occurring prostate cancer and they were more likely to live than those not given the therapy.

The study findings, published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, now pave the way for clinical trials.

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Prostate cancer kills more than 12,000 men in the UK every year. Around 52,300 new cases are diagnosed.

Drugs can treat advanced disease in the short term, but after that, the prognosis is usually gloomy.

Reducing the number of Tregs offers hope of an immunotherapy for patients with advanced prostate cancers.

Experts have found experiments conducted on mice are extremely poor at predicting human trial results, because their cancers are very different.

Prostate cancer in pet dogs serves as a bridge between the use of lab rodents and proceeding to trials in humans.

In addition, researchers say that as dogs have a shorter lifespan than humans, studies could take less time.

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