Research update from Dr. Volk on prognostic markers for canine mammary cancer.
Mammary gland tumors (MGT) are the most common malignancies in intact female dogs and recent work indicates that normal, non-malignant cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) within the surrounding tumor stroma regulates the growth and spread of cancer. Our recent study has identified cancer-associated collagen signatures in canine MGT biopsy samples that predict clinical outcome better than commonly used markers. In studies not funded by CHF, our lab has shown that increasing a tumor-suppressive collagen (type III collagen (Col3)) prevents the formation of these tumor-inciting signatures in other species (mouse and human). Building on these results, we have recently used a novel imaging technique to look at collagen types in MGT samples. Our data suggests that type of collagen as well as the amount and type of collagen cross-linking in tumor samples may be useful in predicting clinical outcome of patients. Our studies also reveal factors that drive formation of these tumor-permissive collagen signatures as well as the ways in which they direct cell activities to direct tumor aggression. Finally, laboratory work suggests these findings can be used to develop clinical therapies. Based on our published and new data, we predict that identifying and targeting tumor-inciting collagen signatures will improve both diagnosis and treatment of dogs with malignant MGT.