Funded in partnership with the Morris Animal Foundation and the Wine Celebration Fund-A-Need
In 2012, Morris Animal Foundation launched its Golden Retriever Lifetime Study primarily to explore the risk factors related to cancer in golden retrievers. The Study has been following 3,044 dogs throughout their lives, collecting wide-ranging data on each animal each year, including environmental exposures, behavior, medical diagnoses, medications, diet and more. Golden retrievers were selected for this study because they are diagnosed with cancer at a much higher rate than most other breeds of dogs, and some of the most common cancers in golden retrievers are closely related to common human cancers.
This grant relates to genomics of our enrolled Study dogs. We will first test DNA samples from all of the dogs. We will be looking for small variations in hundreds of thousands of places along the DNA strands. Some variations may imply that a dog has a greater risk of a certain cancer type or one of the other diseases we are documenting. Similar studies are done for humans, but the advantage in dogs is that such information might ultimately be used in breeding programs to reduce the occurrence of cancer in the first place.
A second aspect of the grant will focus on biopsy specimens. We receive biopsy specimens from many of the cancers diagnosed in our Study dogs. We will be conducting a very detailed analysis of DNA, called sequencing, in these cancer tissues. Cancers occur due to changes in the DNA, called mutations. This study will allow us to determine which mutations are occurring in certain cancers that have similarity with those occurring in human patients. These include lymphoma (a cancer of white blood cells), osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessels). This information may lead to further studies on how to prevent and treat these cancers in both dogs and humans.