If you want to get a better idea of why cancer drugs work better in some people than in others, maybe it's best to study dogs.
That's what's going to happen at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MIT Technology Review reports. The National Cancer Institute at NIH is planning a large-scale study of the effects of immunotherapy drugs on dogs that have cancer, beginning in 2017.
Immunotherapies attempt to stimulate immune responses in people fighting cancer. As an approach it is still in its early stages, though not without successes, such as this 8-year-old with leukemia whose last-ditch immunotherapy treatment seems so far to be working.
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However, scientists are still striving to understand why treatments work in some patients but not others.
That's where dogs come in. When canines get cancer, the genetic mutations involved are similar to those seen in human cancer patients. Mice – normally top animal study subjects – don't have that trait. Essentially, dogs are a good proxy for human immune systems.
With that in mind, some $15 million will be earmarked to fund studies by cancer centers that will work with veterinary colleges on immunotherapy drug trials. The specific research trials will be selected and the funds awarded by the fall of 2017.
via MIT Technology Review
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