Cancer is one of the leading causes of illness and death in cats, with the three most commonly occurring cancers being cancer of the white blood cells, mouth cancer and mammary gland cancer. Targeted therapy approaches now used in human cancer patients produce few side effects, and are thus favoured over blunt tools such as radiotherapy/chemotherapy. However, using these therapies in cats is only possible if knowledge of the underlying genetics of the cancer is known. Sadly, there have been no large-scale pan-cancer studies looking at a wide range of tumour types in cats, so no significant conclusions have been drawn as to what are the common genetic mutations underlying the different tumour types in cats. Thus, our project to sequence 1,000 cancer-associated genes across three of the commonly-occurring cancer types in cats will provide a comprehensive profile of the mutations present in feline cancers. This will truly empower veterinarians in their care of patients, and although only a few targeted therapies are currently approved for use in veterinary medicine, their use is likely to increase given the marked success of such agents in human cancer treatment. In addition, some cancers are caused by inherited cancer susceptibility genes or chemical/viral exposures, and these can be revealed by DNA sequencing. Thus, this data will also help define new veterinary screening approaches in both the prevention and treatment of cancer.
($3,130 Cancer/Oncology Fund)
(Sponsored by IDEXX)