Osteosarcoma. University of Illinois researchers discover insight in the progression of bone cancer in people that is critical to the development of bone tumors in dogs and cats. Their work could lead to helpful advances in caring for pets with a type of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma. Researchers have detected the role of an enzyme, known as kappa-B (known as RANK), and two other key factors called: RANK ligand (RANK-L) and osteoprotegrin (OPG) that play a pivotal role in bone cancer development in humans and pets. RANK is part of a family of receptors that regulates bone and immune system balance. Usually RANK, RANK-L and OPG work together to keep the continual process of normal bone growth and bone resorption balanced.
Bone tumors interfere with this process, resulting in cancer but this new research shows that regulating the role of RANK-L may block cancer cell progression. Therapeutic intervention making use of OPG or other RANK-L inhibitors may slow the process of bone destruction in bone tumors in cats and dogs. Although this is not a cure, it appears to reduce the pain and other complications pets suffer from with bone cancer as they have in people.
This research verifies the fact that the expression of this protein, which worsens the effects of bone cancer in people also occurs in cats and dogs afflicted with bone tumors. Osteosarcoma is ten times more common in pets than it is in people. Dog and cat owners often decide to euthanize their pets because of the severe pain they experience. This intervention reduces pain and offers new hope for improving their quality of life.