Comparative Oncology: Bridging the Gap Between Human and Animal Cancer Research

Comparative oncology is the study of naturally occurring cancers in animals, particularly pets like dogs and cats, in relation to human cancer. This field aims to understand similarities and differences in tumor development, progression, and response to treatments across species.

Why is Comparative Oncology Vital?

  1. Shared Environment: Humans and pets often share the same environment, exposing them to similar carcinogens and risk factors.
  2. Speed of Disease Progression: Some animals, especially dogs, experience a faster disease course, offering quicker insights than human studies.
  3. Treatment Benefits: Research in this field can lead to breakthrough treatments benefiting both humans and animals.
  4. Diverse Genetic Pools: Studying cancers in a variety of breeds can give insights into genetic factors contributing to tumor development and growth.

Areas of Focus in Comparative Oncology

  1. Tumor Biology: Understanding the cellular and molecular aspects of tumors in different species.
  2. Therapeutic Trials: Testing new cancer treatments in animals to gauge effectiveness and safety before potential human trials.
  3. Cancer Prevention: Studying risk factors across species can provide clues for potential preventive measures.
  4. Diagnostic Techniques: Developing and refining tools for early and accurate cancer detection.

The Potential Benefits for Human Medicine

  1. Speeding Up Drug Development: Testing potential new treatments in pets can provide early indications of efficacy, leading to faster human clinical trials.
  2. Personalized Medicine Insights: Different breeds respond differently to treatments, similar to genetic differences in human populations, guiding personalized medicine approaches.
  3. Improved Treatment Modalities: Techniques and approaches developed in animals can often be adapted for human use.

Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine's Role

At the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine:

  • Pioneering Research: We are at the forefront of comparative oncology research, aiming to decode the mysteries of cancer across species.
  • Clinical Trials: Our hospital conducts clinical trials in pets, contributing to the wealth of knowledge about potential treatments and their outcomes.
  • Collaborative Approach: We work closely with human oncologists, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies, ensuring a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to cancer research.
  • Education and Outreach: Through seminars, workshops, and publications, we endeavor to share our findings with the broader scientific community and the public.

Comparative oncology offers a unique and valuable perspective in the battle against cancer. By understanding cancer's manifestation in our beloved pets, we not only improve their quality of life but also pave the way for advanced, effective treatments for humans. It's a testament to the interconnectedness of life and the shared journey toward a world free from the shadow of cancer.

The Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center

The Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center (WCORC) in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine was formed to transform and grow research to improve the outlook for pet animals and humans facing cancer.

Learn more about the Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center