In 2004, the mapping of the dog genome was completed. This effort was a collaboration of many individuals at many institutions and was funded by the National Institutes of Health. This was done at a cost of over $30 Million. Why did they do this? Because they recognized that cures for cancer in people may come through studying and learning to treat this disease in dogs
There are several reasons that many cancer researchers believe this. First, dogs like humans develop cancer spontaneously. This is not the case in mice and rats in which the majority of cancer research happens now. Treating a mouse with a tumor that was injected into it is a lot easier to cure than a person with cancer. By learning how to treat a dog’s cancer, which has all the complexities of a human cancer, we are likely to come up with treatments that can also be used on people. Also, since dogs age faster than humans and they develop cancer at a younger age than people, cancer trials can be done faster and less expensively in dogs.
While the dog genome is about the same size as the human genome, there is less diversity in it, coming from many generations of breeding for specific traits and breeds. This makes it easier to find the genes responsible for specific diseases, including many forms of cancer.
So in helping fund canine Cancer research you are also helping fight Cancer in people. For more information on the mapping of the genome of the dog go to http://www.genome.gov/12511476