Biology & Physiology Research
Animals whose lives occur outside of the confines of a sterile and controlled laboratory environment may offer insights into cancer biology that benefit both humans and veterinary patients as well.
The development of spontaneous cancers in felines, dogs, goats, horses, and even poultry can teach us about the triggers involved in the onset of tumorigenesis. In fact, some of the earliest work that provided understanding of the role of viruses in cancer came from avian experimentation.
Studies of cancer in dogs have provided leads on genomic structural aberrations as well as useful biomarkers in colorectal cancer, and other biological mechanisms involved in melanoma. Comparative oncology on dogs suffering from lymphoma offers insights into disease states and about breed susceptibilities as well. Studies of metastatic mammary cancer in dogs shows that it also mimics human situations.
Animals who spend extensive time exposed to the sun have offered insights in various ways to skin cancers, and quite a range of organisms with melanoma have been observed. Gray horses have been frequently studied. Goats have been observed with malignant melanoma. Pigs provide an interesting model of regression of melanoma.
With increasing information coming from many genome projects there will likely be further progress in understanding normal and cancer biology in these other systems.