Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and the Perelman School of Medicine have published new research into an Epstein Barr-like virus that can infect and may cause lymphomas in dogs.
The findings means that humans and dogs share a similar biology – at least when it comes to the infection by the virus. (Epstein Barr is the cause of diseases such as mononucleosis and is linked to the development of more serious diseases including non-Hodgkins and Hodgkins lymphomas.)
How does infection occur?
In humans, the Epstein Barr virus infects B cells. After an acute phase of infection, which passes in many people without them even being aware of it, the virus goes into a latent phase. Most people show no symptoms during this phase. In some, however the virus promotes unnatural growth of B cells and this contributes to the development of lymphoma.
Dogs develop lymphomas that share some characteristics with human lymphomas. These conditions are relatively common in certain breeds such as the golden retriever.
Researchers think this line of enquiry is promising because they may be able to study the rates of infection and responses to treatment in dogs and this may have spinoffs for human treatment.
You can read the entire University of Pennsylvania media statement here.