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Improving Diagnostic Tools for Classifying Soft-Tissue Sarcomas in Cats, 2014

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rachael Thomas, North Carolina State University 


Injection-site sarcomas in cats are aggressive, locally invasive and prone to postsurgical recurrence. Distinguishing between injection-site sarcomas and other less aggressive sarcomas remains challenging. Researchers will expand upon their previous findings to produce a sophisticated research tool for DNA-based characterization of feline soft-tissue sarcomas. Using this tool may help veterinarians distinguish between injection-site sarcomas and other less aggressive sarcomas, thereby assisting them with diagnosis and the selection of the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient. Researchers will also identify genes that may be associated with the development of these cancers, and this information may reveal potential therapeutic targets.


Developing a New Tool to Study Viral Infections and Cancer in Dogs, 2014

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paul R. Hess, North Carolina State University 


Researchers will develop a state-of-the-art molecular tool to track and study killer T-cell populations that are responsible for fighting viral infections and cancer in dogs.In humans, a powerful immunologic reagent called a tetramer is standardly used to visualize changes in the body’s killer T-cells. These cells respond to immunologic challenges and are critical to the body’s immune system. Current knowledge of T-cell behavior in dogs could be significantly advanced with the development of a dog-specific tetramer. Researchers will work to construct the first canine tetramer, which would then be used in the development of vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer in dogs.


Using Genetic Technology to Diagnose Cancer Types in Cats, 2011-2012

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rachael Thomas, North Carolina State University 


Each year, as many as 22,000 cats in the U.S. develop sarcomas at the site of a vaccine or other injection. Because these injection site–associated sarcomas (ISASs) are typically more aggressive and prone to recurrence than spontaneous sarcomas that are not injection related, they often require more urgent and radical therapeutic intervention. Distinguishing between ISASs and non-ISASs is essential for optimizing clinical management and outcome for each patient, but at present there are no efficient and definitive means for diagnosis. This study uses state-of-the-art microarray-based technology to identify DNA-based markers that may provide more powerful diagnostic and prognostic tools for evaluating these tumors. These data will highlight cancer-associated gene defects as potential new therapeutic targets and will provide a wealth of comparative data that will advance feline molecular oncology studies.


Developing Tools to Help Treat Lymphoma, 2010

Principal investigator: Dr. Rachael Thomas, North Carolina State University 


Feline lymphoma is among the most common cancers affecting cats. It targets the gastrointestinal tract and other abdominal organs and is difficult to accurately diagnose and manage. Using new techniques, the researchers will develop genetic markers to help distinguish between lymphoma subtypes, which can appear very similar but behave very differently making treatment difficult. This study will provide knowledge of the underlying cause of this disease and help clinicians identify the optimal course of action for each cat affected by lymphoma.


The Canine Epigenome: Examination of Genomic Methylation in Canine Lymphoma, 2008

Principal investigator: Dr. Steven E. Suter, North Carolina State University 


Canine lymphoma is one of the most common tumors in dogs. Though initially dogs respond well to treatment, the disease has a dismal overall cure rate of less than 10 percent. Dogs usually die due to a recurrence of the disease that is resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. Using a new technology called epigenomic research, researchers hope to begin to understand how two resistance genes are regulated. This project will shed new light on the development of acquired resistance, which is the main reason that dogs with lymphoma cannot be cured.


Molecular Cytogenic Evaluation of Feline Fibrosarcoma by Array-CGH: A Diagnostic Tool, 2008

Principal investigator: Rachael Thomas, Ph.D., North Carolina State University 


Feline injection-site sarcomas associated with vaccine administration afflict as many as 22,000 cats a year in the United States. Although these tumors often resemble other tumors not related to injection, they are typically devastating and require much more aggressive treatment than conventional sarcomas. Diagnosis can be hindered by an inability to accurately distinguish between injection-site sarcomas and those that aren’t related to injection. This study will use new genetic tools to establish whether recurrent chromosome abnormalities exist in feline sarcomas. They hope to reveal subtype-specific genomic features found in injection-site sarcomas that would aid in diagnosis and treatment selection, and ultimately improve treatment and survival rates.


Application of a Human 10,000 Gene Microarray to Evaluate Gene Expression in Feline Tissues, 2007

Principal investigator: Marlene Hauck, DVM, Ph.D., North Carolina State University

Vaccines were first suspected as an underlying cause of tumor formation in cats in the early 1990s. Chronic inflammation at the site of vaccine injections is thought to contribute to normal cells transforming into malignant ones. Although prevalence of infection-site sarcoma tumors is relatively low, cats that develop sarcomas suffer devastating consequences. Even with the best treatment, less than half survive long-term. Researchers will use microarray technology to measure thousands of genes in normal, reactive and cancerous feline tissues and use that information to formulate a preliminary hypothesis as to which genes play a role in the creation of cancerous tumors. An understanding of the genetic changes associated with these tumors may help to improve treatment and prevention strategies.