Can Lassie Lasso a Cure?

September 2, 2015 by   |   Leave a Comment

The process of creating new drugs requires testing and retesting. Some of that can be done computationally as we develop faster computers and more complex algorithms. Some can be performed with cells grown in an incubator under highly controlled conditions. Nonetheless, before a drug can be approved by the governmental regulatory agencies, in the US that is the Food and Drug Administration, it must be shown to be safe and effective for the intended purpose in generally two animal models. There are strict regulations on the conduct that is acceptable for conducting animal studies. Many individuals, however, challenge, generally on moral grounds, the need to conduct research with animals whether they might be mice, rats, rabbits, pig, flies or worms. The August 24th Chemical & Engineering News ( had an interesting article entitled “Can Fido Fetch a Cure?”, which examines how dogs can be highly useful in the search for new cancer drugs. It is chock full of interesting information.

Did you know:

  • Dogs have 78 chromosomes compared to our 46?
  • Airedales are 16 times more likely to get pancreatic cancer compared to other types of dogs.
  • Scottish terriers are 19 times more likely to get bladder cancer than other types of dog.
  • Boxers are prone to mast cell tumors.


At a recent Institute of Medicine forum, it was highlighted that pre-clinical trials with dogs are helping improve the success rate of late stage cancer drug development. Dr. Gerald S. Post, a veterinarian and founder of the Animal Cancer Foundation, was quoted as saying “We’re not doing things to animals. We are doing things for animals”. It is a refreshing article and I highly recommend it.

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