Hamster Cancer Models

Hamsters have been used for decades to study various aspects of cancer biology.  Although some work is limited by the lack of a knowledgebase of the immunology and genomics of these animals, many aspects of tumor incidence and growth, and physiology have been gleaned from the laboratory hamster.


Exposure to chemical carcinogens

One well-characterized model system is the oral cancer model in the hamster cheek pouch, which bears significant similarity to pre-malignant and malignant progression of human oral cancer. Protocols to explore this system using carcinogenic agents are available, and molecular characterizations of the features of this system continue.  Another induced cancer model is that of pancreatic cancer in hamsters.


Exposure to infectious agents

A significant proportion of human cancers may have a viral or infectious basis, and tumor virology is an important field of investigation.  Viral-induced tumors are studied in hamster models.  Adenovirus 12 (AD12) can be used to instigate tumorigenesis in Syrian hamsters. The cancer-causing aspects of the SV40 virus are actively investigated in the golden hamsters as well. Osteoscarcomas generated via BK virus have been studied.  Liver fluke infection in hamsters may offer a model system for cholangiocarcinoma, and protocols are being explored.


Transplantation studies

As with other model systems, transplantable tumors can be studied in hamsters as well.  Melanoma has been investigated in this manner, and protocols are available for this work.