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Cancer treatments: not just for humans any more


By Adam Allington, KWMU

Columbia, MO – Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy are not just for humans anymore.

Veterinarians at the University of Missouri have been selected by the National Cancer Institute to spearhead research in the growing field of veterinary oncology.

Oncology is the study of tumors. Dr. Carolyn Henry is director of the U-M research team.

Up until now she says that most cancer research involving animals has been focused on rodents.

"The unique part is that we're using patients presented to a veterinary hospital that already have cancer, that got cancer for the same reasons that people get cancer," says Henry.

"Also a large enough animal model so that we can do things like a CAT scans, very similar to what one would do with a person."

According to Dr. Henry the reason for the increase is twofold-more pet owners are willing to spend money for expensive treatments, and also, the next generation of cancer research won't focus solely on rodents.

"What's been done over and over again through the years is that you induce cancer in a mouse and then you try to cure the cancer in the mouse and unfortunately that's a very contrived model and it doesn't necessary act like cancer does in a patient that develops cancer spontaneously."

Dr. Henry's department has received new funding from the National Cancer Institute.

She says having a veterinary teaching hospital, a medical school and a cancer center all on one physical campus will greatly accelerate the pace of clinical trials for new drugs and treatments.