NEW YORK: They are our best friends. But, if a study is to be believed, humans and dogs share more than just friendship and companionship they also share the same genetic basis for certain types of cancer.

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota and North Carolina State University has carried out the study and discovered the genetic cancer link between humans and the canines.

According to them, because of the way the genomes have evolved, getting cancer may be inevitable for some humans and dogs. Genomes are divided into chromosomes, which act as nature's biological filing cabinets with genes located in specific places.

"Many forms of human cancer are associated with specific alterations to the number or structure of chromosomes and the genes they contain.

"We've developed reagents to show the same applies to dog cancers, and that the specific genome reorganisation which occurs in comparable human and canine cancers shares a common basis," the ScienceDaily quoted lead researcher Matthew Breen as saying.

The team also found that the genetic changes which occur in dogs diagnosed with certain cancers of the blood and bone marrow are virtually identical to genetic abnormalities in humans diagnosed with the same cancers.

"We believe the implication of this finding is that cancer may be the consequence of generations of genetic evolution that has occurred similarly in dogs and humans.

"This means that to some degree, cancer may be inevitable in some humans and dogs just because of the way our genomes have developed since the separation from a common ancestor.

"Since we know now that dogs and humans seem to share a common pathogenetic basis for some cancers, we believe that studying dog cancers may allow us to identify cancer associated genes more easily in dog populations than in human populations.

"Once identified, we may be able to translate these findings to human cancers as we seek to provide a greater level of insight into cancer risk, diagnosis, and prognosis," co-researcher Jaime Modiano said.


The human genome has 46 chromosomes and the dog genome contains 78 chromosomes. Sometimes, in the normal duplication process of cells, chromosomes can be rearranged or relocated.

This rearrangement or relocation is translocation which can lead to a cell losing its function developing into cancer.

"Interestingly, we found that the same translocation of chromosomes happens in dogs as in humans for the three blood and bone marrow cancers we studied," Modiano said.