The research emphases in our laboratory are on understanding how and why cancer happens and on translating basic research into clinical applications that improve the health and wellbeing of companion animals and humans. we have focused our work on three major areas:
Cell cycle biology and lymphocyte activation
The concept that the resting state in lymphocytes is maintained passively in the absence of stimulatory signals prevailed through the mid-1990s. Since then, it has become clear that tonic signaling enforces quiescence in order to prevent inappropriate activation. This is called "negative regulation," and we were among the first to define its mechanisms and their potential connections to immune dysfunction in diabetes and cancer and their modulation by tobacco-derived toxins.
2. Comparative cancer biology and genomics
We have used the peculiar organization of dogs into pure and mixed breeds in order to identify factors that contribute disproportionately to cancer risk and development. For example, we identified a predilection of certain breeds to develop lymphomas with a distinct cell of origin, and we discovered regions of the genome that are associated with cancer risk in certain dog breeds. We have also documented that the same mutations are responsible for the development of certain cancers in humans and dogs, such as the BCR-ABL translocation in chronic myelogenous leukemia. Innovative research using comparative genomics has helped us identify unique molecular signatures that are associated with disease progression and can thus be used to prognosticate and personalize therapies for dogs and humans with cancer.
3. Pre-clinical, diagnostic, and clinical development
We have developed novel diagnostic tests and therapeutic tools for cancer and autoimmunity. We were among the first to show that apoptotic bodies could enhance cross priming in patients with spontaneous tumors. We have also developed patented methods to prognosticate tumors and predict response to therapy, and we have advanced novel biological therapies from the laboratory into realistic clinical settings through companion animal trials. Some of our diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents are in the process of commercialization.