Historical interest in horses
While it may not be the first topic of animal research that comes to mind when considering horses-many people are more aware of musculoskeletal research in horses-there are cancers that affect horses which are under investigation. Some are of concern more for their veterinary perspective; others clearly have relevance to human conditions.
Horses and cancer studies
One active area of research with potential for translational research to human is a spontaneous skin cancer that afflicts horses. Grey horses can characteristically develop a type of melanoma that has both similarities with, and differences from, human cancers. The neoplasms themselves may yield important clues to cancer mechanisms. But additional insights from metastatic cancers in these animals may also provide clues to similar situations in humans, and lead to improved understanding of useful treatment strategies.
New genetic clues are helping to understand the causes and mechanisms of this melanoma in the horse, and pathways in which these genes act may provide clues for possible human therapeutics. Further support in the way of knowledge and tools from the ongoing equine genome sequencing project also provides avenues for greater cross-species understanding.