EDITORIAL Animal Cancer Research

The use of animal models was once widespread in cancer research before it became feasible to culture h u m a n neoplastic cells and to analyze them before, during, and after culture. With cytologic, biochemical, and molecular tools, the h u m a n cancer cell could be studied and there was no need for animal models of malignancy, or so it seemed. Original articles on h u m a n cancer cells appeared in great numbers in journals such as Cancer Genetics and Cytagenetics: We largely lost sight of the fact that tumors occur not only in h u m a n s and in the favored laboratory rodents such as mice, rats and hamsters, but also in all types of wild and domestic animals. As a small reversal of the prevalent trend to ignore n o n - h u m a n cancer, this issue contains an article describing the chromosomes in four canine mast cell tumors. The article is by Diana M. Stone, Peter B. Jacky, and David J. Prieur. Drs. Stone and Prieur are from the r e k n o w n e d Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology at Washington State University east of the Cascade Mountains in the State of Washington; their department has for decades performed pioneering studies of animal models for h u m a n diseases. They have now teamed up with Dr. Peter Jacky, a h u m a n cytogeneticist at Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization, in the neighboring State of Oregon. This is a welcome collaboration between veterinary scientists and a clinical h u m a n cytogeneticist and between a university without a medical school and a prepaid h u m a n medical program. More such collaborations would benefit both animal and h u m a n health care. Dogs have 78 chromosomes. All four canine mast cell tumors showed chromosome aberrations although three of the tumors had a normal modal n u m b e r of 78 chromosomes. By current standards of h u m a n cancer cytogenetics, this research is crude and could date back a decade or so. But it is a start, and a good one. As the authors point out in their introduction: The domestic dog is a potentially useful animal model for the study of spontaneous tumors. Many dogs live an extended life span [thanks to good care by their owners. - Editors] and are provided with veterinary medical care permitting the detection and diagnosis of malignancies. Of all domestic animals, dogs most intimately share the human environment, are exposed to many of the same environmental carcinogens and mutagens as humans and develop malignancies identical to many human malignancies. This is not meant to imply that research on h u m a n cancer should cease or even diminish. By the same token, should we forget malignancies in dogs? After all, the dog is considered our best friend. As developed nations have evolved medical services to extend h u m a n life, they have developed veterinary services to extend the lifespan of dogs. The diseases among our pets are increasingly those of an industrial civilization, cancer included. Domestic animals need cancer genetic research. This research will benefit Our pets as well as the two-legged animals called humans. On behalf of Cancer Genetics and

137 © 1991 Elsevier Science P u b l i s h i n g Co.. Inc. 655 A v e n u e of the Americas. N e w York, NY 10010

Cancer Genet Cytogenet 53:137 0165-4698/91/$03.50

138 {1991)


Editorial Cytogenetics, we invite submission of well-prepared manuscripts on chromosomes and genes in animal cancers. Although the central aim of Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics is to focus on h u m a n cancer, studies of cancer in species other than the h u m a n species may prove relevant. In dogs, cats, and other larger animals, it will be important to determine the genetic changes in cancers. Are these changes specific to a species or are they shared by diverse species? The goal is to understand comparative cancer genetics. Just as Darwin studied the evolution of the species, so must we study the evolution of malignancy among different species. FREDERICK HECHT BARBARA K. HECHT

Molecular Medicine and Genetics Children's Mercy Hospital 2401 Gillham Rd. Kansas City, MO 64108

Animal cancer research.

EDITORIAL Animal Cancer Research The use of animal models was once widespread in cancer research before it became feasible to culture h u m a n neopl...
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