Mast Cell Tumors

Grant 257 (2005)

Investigation of Predicators of Outcome for Canine Mast Cell Tumors
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth M. Whitley, DVM, PhD at Auburn University.


Mast cell tumors are common and high grade tumors are often deadly cancers in dogs. Treatment for aggressive MCT fails often, in part due to imprecise prediction of aggressiveness when surgical biopsy samples are examined.

This project aims to improve the accuracy of prediction by determining the importance of several cellular proteins in relation to the ability of the malignant mast cells (MC) to invade tissue and to metastasize to lymph nodes and to distant organs. We will examine biopsy specimens from previous and current cases of MCT for expression of proteins that have critical functions in adhesion between cells and their environment in signaling for cell proliferation, and for metastatic capability. Responses of the affected dogs to surgical, radiation and chemotherapy will be compared to protein marker expressions, with the anticipation that we will be able to identify proteins that are associated with aggressiveness. This information can then be used for selection of appropriate therapy.

We propose to collect fresh tumor tissue from both aggressive and relatively non-aggressive MCTs and to culture them for use in experiments detailing differences between aggressive and non-aggressive MCT. Cell lines derived from canine MCT also will be useful in future investigations into the basic physiology of canine MC and for use in preclinical testing of drug therapies for MCT.


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