Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Man's Best Friend
12 July 2016

Man's Best Friend

Whether providing furry stress relief, sniffing out signs of hypoglycaemia or simply getting us outside for a walk, dogs already do a great deal for our health. Yet they could also be key to a better understanding of a devastating type of brain tumour, known as glioma, or glioblastoma in its most common and severe form. Arising from astrocytes, which form supportive tissues in the brain, malignant glioblastoma cells (pictured stained orange) occur in dogs as well as in humans, with some broad-headed, flat-nosed breeds like boxers especially at risk. By comparing the genomes of healthy and diseased dogs from 25 different breeds, scientists recently identified three genes associated with canine glioblastoma. These sequences also have human equivalents, which might similarly be linked to brain tumours in human patients. So far, one of the genes has been shown to have reduced activity in cancerous cells, a promising start that warrants further research.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

  • Image by Tobias Bergström
  • Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden and Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Image copyright held by the photographer
  • Research published in PLOS Genetics, May 2016

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