Other Laboratory Animal Cancer Models
Cancer researchers employ laboratory animal species in addition to mice and rats. They offer different advantages and complementary approaches to study cancer initiation and malignant progression. Hamsters, rabbits, and zebrafish are among the members of this group of model species.
In some cases a model was discovered early in the days of cancer research, and this historical position led to extensive foundational work that continues to support researchers today. In other cases models were sought specifically to recapitulate human cancers in a more directly comparable manner.
Additional laboratory animal models species will continue to be developed as their special features are understood and harnessed. For example, recent work with laboratory opossums as a cancer model have demonstrated the utility of this emerging model system. More recently other models have arisen because of their genetics and rapid breeding times. The tools of comparative genomics today make both the relationships and the differences among the various model species even more useful. We can learn about similar genes and pathways in one system, and transfer that knowledge to human cancers. We can observe differences between systems that yield important clues to possible therapeutic intervention strategies as well.