Despite those velvet paintings of poker-playing dogs smoking pipes, cigars, and cigarettes, our canine friends really do not use tobacco. But, like many humans who have never smoked, dogs still get lung cancer. And, as many women who develop a particular type of breast cancer, the same gene -- HER2 -- also appears to be the cause of lung cancer in many dogs, according to a promising new study of pet dogs led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of the City of Hope (California), and The Ohio State University. Published online on August 20, 2019 in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, this study could have significant implications, not only for dogs, but also for people who have never smoked. The article is titled “Identification of Recurrent Activating HER2 Mutations in Primary Canine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma.” TGen and Ohio State found that neratinib -- a drug that has successfully been used to battle human breast cancer -- might also work for many of the nearly 40,000 dogs in the U.S. that annually develop the most common type of canine lung cancer, known as canine pulmonary adenocarcinoma (CPAC). Neratinib inhibits a mutant cancer-causing form of the gene HER2, which is common to both CPAC and HER2-positive human breast cancer patients. "With colleagues at Ohio State, we found a novel HER2 mutation in nearly half of dogs with CPAC. We now have a candidate therapeutic opportunity for a large proportion of dogs with lung cancer," said Will Hendricks, PhD, an Assistant Professor in TGen's Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, Director of Institutional Research Initiatives, and the study's senior author. Based on the results from this study, a clinical trial using neratinib is planned for dogs with naturally occurring lung cancer that have the HER2 mutation.
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