Research / Discovery

Personalized cancer research a highlight at national conference

10/31/13
by Coleman Cornelius

Cancer research and treatment in dogs with naturally occurring tumors can provide tremendous insights for human cancer medicine, and Colorado State University's Flint Animal Cancer Center will tout this translational concept at one of the nation's leading meetings to address the same diseases in different species.

Dr. Rod Page, a medical oncologist and director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center, is among the scheduled speakers at Zoobiquity, an annual conference set Saturday at The Rockefeller University in New York.

Personalized medical care

Page will present research-based information about how doctors and veterinarians can use a patient’s genetic information to predict the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, allowing for personalized medical care.

Dr. Rod Page, director of CSU's Flint Animal Cancer Center, says animal cancer treatment can provide insights for human cancer therapy.These studies compare data from an individual’s cancer genes to that modeled from human cell lines maintained at the National Cancer Institute and canine cell lines at the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center. These cross-comparisons identify chemotherapy treatments that might be most successful in combatting a specific disease. 

“We use a mathematical modeling process to determine the individual sensitivity to chemotherapy for a patient with cancer. This helps determine what drugs might be the most useful for a particular patient,” Page explained. This personalized approach is just beginning in veterinary cancer care; it is more often used in human treatment.

Translational research helps all

Zoobiquity, sponsored by the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California – Los Angeles, brings together leading physicians and veterinarians to examine case studies and to discuss care for the same diseases in different species. The event aims to inspire new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals and humans.

“Our work here demonstrates that the scientific approaches used by physicians are applicable to our canine and feline friends,” Page said. “Likewise, our research can benefit the medical community’s understanding of cancers that are shared by multiple species.”

The Flint Animal Cancer Center pursues leading-edge cancer research, treatment, and education for veterinary students and residents. A key focus is demonstrating how veterinary medicine can support and inform the practice of human medicine; this fits with the Zoobiquity goal of exploring how animal and human commonalities can be used to diagnose, treat, and heal patients of all species.

The center, in the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, treats about 1,500 new patients from around the world each year. It has pioneered surgical, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy procedures for animals with cancer – and has trained more surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists than any other U.S. veterinary institution.