Genetic Testing

As we continue to research content for this site, one idea that I keep coming back to as a means for fighting hemangiosarcoma is genetic testing. A recent research article that was published in November, 2017 (less than 2 months from the time of this writing) identified mutations in 4 genes that could potentially pave the way for new types of treatment. As we discuss on the Treatments page, if your dog is believed to have hemangiosarcoma, your vet will mostly likely recommend surgery, chemotherapy, or both. These treatment methods have existed for a long time, and given the poor prognosis of dogs who undergo these treatments, I think the idea of a new, more targeted type of treatment is very promising.

That is why we are dedicating this week to the exploration of genetic testing as not only a means for more targeted treatments, but also as a method for determining whether or not certain individuals are predisposed to this type of cancer. In order to do this, we plan to leverage the knowledge of both canine geneticists and hemangiosarcoma researchers in a series of meetings later this week. Our first meeting, on Wednesday, will allow us to discuss these ideas with a canine DNA testing company. Then, on Friday, we have meetings with researchers at 2 universities who have also expressed an interest in these ideas.

I am optimistic that improving our understanding of hemangiosarcoma at the genetic level will lead to better treatment and earlier detection. Given the small sample size of many HSA studies, however, more research may be needed before any of the current findings are incorporated into a test. But there will be always be challenges; we just need to understand and overcome them so that one day, we can give dogs, like Bear, a shot at beating this disease. I hope that our meetings will shed some light on genetic testing as a potential solution for fighting hemangiosarcoma, and I will be providing an update next Saturday (Jan. 13) about what we learn in the upcoming days.