A national clinical trial involving dogs with bone cancer could lead to better treatment for children with the same disease.
"It is, in a sense, man's best friend helping man," says Cheryl London, a member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics program in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. London leads the study at Ohio State.
The purpose of the study is to define a safe and effective dose and dosing schedule for the immunosuppressive drug rapamycin in dogs with osteosarcoma, the most common form of canine bone cancer.
"One reason we study osteosarcoma in dogs is that, biologically, it behaves very similarly to the disease in children," London says. "We think similar genes are involved, which makes canine osteosarcoma a good model for pediatric osteosarcoma. We think that what we learn in dogs can really translate into new therapeutic approaches for children."
Each year, about 1,000 children develop osteosarcoma, and up to 30 percent will die from the disease, she says.