This is a question many people outside the animal health industry pose from time to time. Mostly people who don’t have dogs.
To everyone who’s ever wondered about the above, here’s an answer: Because animal health research saves human lives.
Kansas State University researchers Raymond “Bob” Rowland and Deryl Troyer have recently become the first to find the link between SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disorder) in pigs and certain types of human cancer. Two of these cancers are melanoma and pancreatic – common varieties that have taken many lives.
The discovery was brought about by research concerning PRRS (Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) and the consequent development of “immunodeficient pigs”. This lead to a collaboration in which Rowland and Troyer would use the situation to help augment their studies regarding cancer in humans.
According to Troyer, “This is a great example of collaborative and interdisciplinary research…With two perspectives, there is often a synergy that evolves because of different ways of thinking.”
The current study is opening many opportunities in both animal and human health. While the initial field of study is cancer, these discoveries could also lead to improvements in the futures of bone marrow transplants, detecting the side effects of cancer drugs, and even surgical inventions
Similar research involving mice had been done previously, but there was a low success rate due to a larger genetic distance between these animals and human beings.
“The potential is a little daunting because it is as if there is no horizon limiting possible ways to utilize this model, ” Troyer said. “It is an opportunity for Kansas State University to be a leader in the field and to become a center for large animal biomedical research.”
Rowland and Troyer are hoping to expand their research to include “other types of solid cancers” and blood disorders like leukemia.