JAX Launches Tallwood Canine Cancer Research Initiative to Find the Most Effective Cancer Predictors and Treatments for Humans and Dogs

Farmington, Conn., Dec. 27, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new ally has emerged in the quest to cure cancer: man’s best friend.  The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) has unveiled the Tallwood Canine Cancer Research Initiative (TCCRI), which will create a biobank of dog tumors that the nonprofit biomedical research institution plans to use and share with researchers around the world to provide new insights into cures for cancer in humans and dogs.


As part of this initiative, JAX will identify and work closely with veterinary centers of excellence.  When a canine patient at one of the JAX’s veterinary partner organizations is diagnosed with a cancer of interest, its owner can opt to have the veterinarian donate their dog’s tumor to TCCRI when it’s removed during the dog’s cancer treatment.  JAX will use the tumor to create a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) cancer model and sequence each tumor model established, much like the organization’s human PDX resource.  PDX tumors are grown in mice, and can provide information including how cancer changes over time and what therapeutics are most effective.  JAX will use these PDX models for its ongoing cancer research programs, as well as make them available to researchers around the world to accelerate the process of cancer treatment discovery.


To assist with the interpretation of genetic mutations in these canine tumors, JAX investigators will also sequence the DNA from healthy canines of specific breeds.  Comparing healthy dogs to dogs of the same breed with cancerous mutations is expected to yield crucial information in understanding cancer’s roots.


JAX received a $500,000 gift for the Tallwood Canine Cancer Research Initiative from an anonymous Hartford-area donor.  The TCCRI project began last month with the collection of DNA from the first healthy canine sample – the donor family’s dog, Patrick, an Irish Wolfhound. 


“As a geneticist, when you learn that certain purebred dogs recurrently get the same cancer type and thus are predisposed to those cancers – despite differences in their environments – you reason that there’s probably something underlying in their genome that encourages that specific cancer type to form,” said Charles Lee, Ph.D., FACMG, Scientific Director and Professor at JAX Genomic Medicine.  “By studying specific dog breeds’ genomes, we can work to identify which parts of the genome differ between breeds and could contribute to cancer.  Subsequently, identifying corresponding regions in human genomes might potentially uncover new regulatory elements that encourage these types of cancers in humans.  This strategy is particularly useful for cancers that are rare among humans, but commonly found in certain dog breeds.”


Lee continued: “The information gained from this program will undoubtedly also improve what we learn about canine tumors and, in doing so, lead to improved personalized cancer treatments for dogs.  It really is a win-win for both species.” 


Indeed, dog cancers and human cancers have been shown to be quite similar.  For example, dogs get the same kinds of brain cancers as people, and their immune systems react similarly to treatments. 


“It’s remarkable how similar our species are in this area. I am optimistic we will discover important information about how to best treat man and man’s best friend,” Lee said. 



About The Jackson Laboratory

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs more than 2,000 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health. To learn more, please visit www.jax.org.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/7d7d0244-9aee-4e8b-9210-a7862be5b08a


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/62f0a038-25aa-4ce8-b315-bd4e01a577ff


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f3753658-4814-4490-aa7e-435cdbdd9f84

Dr. Charles Lee, scientific director and professor at JAX Genomic Medicine, welcomes Patrick, a healthy Irish Wolfhound, to the campus of the nonprofit biomedical research institution's Farmington, Conn. campus. Dr. Kenneth Knaack, a veterinarian at Veterinary Specialists of Connecticut, collected the blood sample for the first healthy canine DNA sequence in The Jackson Laboratory's TCCRI program.

Contact Data