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Glasgow 2001 Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Pet cancer trials planned
Argyle BBC
Dr David Argyle: Gene therapy is just one approach
Researchers in Scotland plan to start trials of gene therapy in dogs and cats with tumours.

They hope the work will lead to new ways of treating human cancers.


It may be that the therapeutic trials that we do are going to reflect better what is going to happen in people when these trials go on in human medicine

David Argyle, Glasgow University
Trials on several hundred animals are due to begin next year. It is the first time that such a treatment has been offered to pets in the UK.

Dr David Argyle, of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University, said humans might well benefit from the work.

"The disease very much mimics what goes on in people," he told the BBC. "It may be that the therapeutic trials that we do are going to reflect better what is going to happen in people when these trials go on in human medicine."

Cancer target

The animals will be given an experimental treatment for mouth, bone and lymph cancers.

Compressed helium in a "gene gun" will fire foreign DNA into the target tumours. The products of the new genes will hopefully then cause the cancerous cells to commit suicide.

In the first stage of the trials, therapeutic genes will be targeted at the tumours found in dogs.

The animal has the highest rates of cancer for all the domestic species. One in three dogs get some form of cancer during their lifetime (much the same as humans), with most having to be put down.

"In the first instance this will be an adjunct to more conventional treatments," Dr Argyle said. "We don't think gene therapy is going to be the be-all-and-end-all cure. Where it is going to have its greatest impact is in the earliest stages of disease."

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Dr David Argyle
Cancer is very common in dogs
See also:

30 Jun 00 | Wales
27 Mar 01 | Health
Links to more Glasgow 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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