AKC Doubles Your Cancer Research Dollars
More than 50 percent of dogs over 10 years old will be diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Diane Brown from AKC Canine Health Foundation wants to change that statistic.
AKC has pledged $250,000 in matching funds this year toward research into prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of all cancers in dogs. This enables individuals and clubs who donate to the matching fund to literally double the impact of every dollar.
Age is not a disease
“Age is not a disease,” Brown said. “There are quality of life issues to consider, but I believe we can get to a point of treating older dogs.”
Since people and dogs are affected by the same types of cancers, much of the research being done can be applied in what Brown describes as comparative oncology.
Prevention and Detection
In the prevention category, some cancer vaccines are a reality today and more are being studied. A melanoma vaccine is on the market now, Brown said.
Early detection of cancer saves lives in dogs and in people. Current research is looking at markers circulating in the dog’s system identified in blood samples that indicate increased risk for a specific disease.
Investing in personalized medicine is the wave of the future, Brown said. Using immunotherapy that is individualized for each dog is a very real possibility. She added that within five years many of these options will be realistically available.
Visit the AKCCHF crew on the west coast at the Beverly Hills Dog Show March 2-3. Brown encouraged visitors to share their stories and their questions.
Hemangiosarcoma Strikes Quickly and With No Warning
Canine Health Foundation (CHF) CEO Dr. Diane Brown talks with me about the most current research into hemangiosarcoma. CHF is funding a major initiative dedicated to moving the needle on this deadly disease.
Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive, silent killer, Brown said. This particular cancer is specific to dogs and originates in blood vessels. Primary sites in which hemangio will present are the spleen and heart, Brown noted, owing to the abundance of blood vessels in those organs.
“These cancers grow quickly and quietly,” Brown said. “Once people know the dog has hemangio, generally the tumor has ruptured and the dogs bleed internally.”
No definitive genetic connection
Removing the cancer doesn’t cure the disease, Brown said. She added that all of the treatments tried over time have not improved overall survival time. Hemangio is a cancer seen often in large breed dogs, but Brown noted veterinarians are seeing it more and more frequently in all sizes and mixed breed dogs as well.
“There are higher risk breeds,” Brown said “but there is no direct, definitive genetic connection.” She added that research has so far not been able to identify a “hemangiosarcoma gene.”
“What we really need is a way to do an earlier diagnosis,” Brown noted.
To that end, CHF is spending resources investigating early diagnosis options — whether a blood test, liquid biopsy, genetic test. They are trying to find a way to diagnose the disease when it is at a “low cellularity.”
A major matching grant from AKC for $250,000 last year has been met with additional funds from the Golden Retriever Foundation, Flat Coated Retriever Foundation, American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation and more.
Study participation opportunities
Owners and breeders who are interested in participating in various CHF studies are encouraged to visit the website and peruse the active studies currently seeking participation.
Join CHF in supporting these important research initiatives by attending Canines and Cocktails Thursday, 12/13 at the Rosen Center hotel in Orlando, FL. Tickets available at the CHF booth at the dog show.
Research shows growing problem with ticks
Ticks are creepy crawly creatures we all love to hate. But they are also dangerous disease vectors transmitting deadly organisms. Dr. Diane Brown, CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, shared incredibly
valuable information about what her organization is doing to lead the fight against these diseases.
CHF funded research has identified a class of tick-borne organisms, called Bartonella. Bartonella invades the host’s blood vessels and can cause inflammation in the heart.
“What if that (bartonella infection) is the early trigger that leads to chronic inflammation in the blood vessels,” Brown posits, “potentially leading to the development of cancer.”
Current CHF funded research is looking at bartonella in association with hemangiosarcoma, literally cancer of the blood vessels.
“It’s a little controversial,” Brown said “but there’s a lot of impetus driving the research in this direction.”
Tick-borne organisms associated with deadly disease
The Foundation’s research also has shown immune mediated hemolytic anemia can be associated with tick borne disease.
“It’s critical to test these dogs for an underlying tick borne infection before treating them with steroids that can just exacerbate the problem,” Brown said.
The CHF initiatives are working on broad spectrum of vectors that impact the health of dogs, Brown noted. She added that new tick species and diseases are discovered every year.
“Tick preventives are key to keeping your dog healthy,” Brown said. With the rising number of “co-infections” she noted that testing for more than one disease is imperative.
CHF has a three-prong approach to this burgeoning crisis. The non-profit funds research focused on diagnosis, new therapies for treatment and prevention.
Hear more on this topic with CHF Board Member Susan Hamil:
Additional Resources from CHF:
CHF Tick-Borne Disease Research Initiative landing page; includes grants, research publications, webinars, podcast, news, other resources
Lyme Disease Fact Sheet:
Ticks and Zoonotic Disease Webinar with Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt:
Diane Brown, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer for the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF). She joined CHF in August 2015, and oversees operations and scientific programs from its Raleigh, NC headquarters. Her role is to cultivate and execute the Foundation’s research and education strategy in collaboration with its Board of Directors, Scientific Review Committee, external collaborators, principal investigators and staff to ensure strategic, responsible, and innovative application of donor funds to uphold the Foundation’s Mission to advance canine health.
Dr. Brown is a board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist who holds a DVM and PhD in pathology from Colorado State University. As an independent investigator and comparative pathologist, Dr. Brown served as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, as director of the Comparative Clinical Pathology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as consulting pathologist at the University of Colorado. She previously served as Chief Scientific Officer for Morris Animal Foundation, and currently holds an affiliate faculty position in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has held prior affiliate faculty appointments in the veterinary schools at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University and Purdue University.