THE humble Scottish Terrier is being used by American scientists in the fight against cancer.
The breed is known for its feisty and self-assured character, but scientists have long known that it is particularly susceptible to bladder cancer.
Now researchers have used pioneering research to hone their ability to detect the disease in its early stages in the dogs, driving forwards treatment methods for humans.
“Scotties” as they are affectionately known, are around 20 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than mixed-breed dogs.
Last September, Purdue University in Indiana launched a three year study to screen 100 healthy Scotties and see if the disease can be detected early
And in February the scientists reported finding three times as much cancer or pre-cancer in “normal” Scottish terriers than they had expected.
The results suggest that early cancer screening methods in the study have been extremely effective.
Dr Deborah Knapp, who is leading the research, said: “Normally we would not convey the results of a three-year study in the first six months of the project.
“But this is different because we are already seeing remarkable results.”
Dr Knapp has now published a paper arguing that more research in pets with an increased risk for naturally occurring cancers could “propel” improvements in early detection techniques for cancer in humans.
She has argued that because specific forms of naturally occurring cancer in pets closely mimic the same forms in humans, research into pet cancer will naturally benefit humans.
Early results suggest that national databases on household pets with cancer could lead to dramatic advances for treatment in humans.