Since the great Rudolf Virchow advised, “Between animal and human medicine there is no dividing line, nor should there be,” limited attention has been paid to cancer in animals. This is finally changing thanks to a renewed focus on studying pet dogs with cancer. Unlike the laboratory mice who have been the mainstay of animal models of disease, pet dogs share an environment with their human owners, have an intact immune system, and often develop diseases spontaneously in ways that mimic their human counterparts. Osteosarcoma (OSA) – while uncommon in humans - is a common malignancy in dogs. This comparatively high incidence alone renders pet dogs an ideal “model” to conduct translational and clinical research into OSA. Indeed, there are many similarities between the two species with respect to this disease. However, owing to the shorter life span and accelerated disease progression, treatment effects can be assessed much more rapidly in canines than in humans. Overall, dogs represent a unique model to study OSA; this chapter aims to discuss the ways that comparative oncology between dogs and humans are being used from basic science research, to genetics and mechanisms of disease, to tumor biology and finally to developing novel treatments.
Part of the book: Osteosarcoma