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This webinar is geared towards genomics cancer researchers particularly those interested in comparative studies.

Speaker information
Matthew Breen, PhD CBiol FRSBBreen photo
Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics
Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
North Carolina State University (NCSU)

Member, Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, NCSU
Member, Center for Human Health and the Environment, NCSU
Member, Cancer Genetics Program, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Visiting Scientist, Broad Institute of Harvard/MIT

Comparative biomedical research has resulted in significant advances as we strive to enhance the health and welfare of our animal companions and ourselves. There are over 80,000,000 pet dogs in the US, of which approx. half are purebred. One in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime and at least half of all dogs over age 10 will die from cancer. Many purebred dogs have increased odds of developing specific cancers, indicative in an inherited predisposition. Importantly all these cancer are spontaneous and many share remarkable similarity of pathologic and clinical behavior to the corresponding human cancer. The high level of sequence similarity of the canine and human genomes, combined with a shared environment, support the role of the domestic dog as a highly valued model for cancer research.

Over the past several years we have performed genome wide studies of thousands of tumor bearing dogs presenting with a variety of cancers. Each patient also has matched pathology and detailed clinical follow up, enabling identification of genomic features associated with outcome.  During the same period we generated a series of molecular cytogenetic reagents to stock the ‘toolbox’. Collectively these biological and technical resources are being used to interrogate the canine genome for inherited risk factors and to define somatic changes in tumor cells.

One key aspect of this study has involved identification of numerous DNA copy number signatures associated with canine cancer subtypes. We are using these data as foundation to offer a more sophisticated means of tumor diagnosis and early detection. In addition we have begun to define genomic lesions that correlate with patient outcome, leading to the development of new prognostic assays.

Using Nexus Copy Number we have demonstrated that several of the DNA copy number changes detected by CGH analysis in canine cancers are highly conserved with the corresponding cancers in humans. These data provide strong evidence for a shared pathogenetic origin of several cancers affecting both human and dog. By considering the canine and human genomes in such a comparative context, we have identified that the genomic complexity of some key cancers may be less than human studies alone have suggested. A brief overview of some of these studies will be presented.