One of the UK’s highest profile specialists wants the profession to forge closer links with human medicine in the fight against cancer.

From left: Laurent Findji, Kelvin Kow, Stuart Carmichael, Noel Fitzpatrick, Nick Bacon and Lucy Montague.
From left: Laurent Findji, Kelvin Kow, Stuart Carmichael, Noel Fitzpatrick, Nick Bacon and Lucy Montague.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the opening of Fitzpatrick Referrals’ oncology hospital, Noel Fitzpatrick also lamented the fact some members of the veterinary profession were too critical of progress.

Since opening on the Surrey Research Park in Guildford, the £6.2 million centre has treated more than 1,000 patients.

Same options objective

To stimulate more collaboration between human and veterinary sectors, the centre has already established links and started discussions with leading institutions from the world of human cancer treatment, but Prof Fitzpatrick believes more needs to be done.

He said: “My goal is to provide the same options for animals we see here as those offered to patients in human medicine.

“I strongly believe there are so many compounds and drugs out there that could cure certain forms of cancer in animals, or at least palliate or treat certain forms, but they don’t get used in the veterinary arena because we don’t have access to them.”

Striking similarities

Prof Fitzpatrick continued: “Bone cancer in dogs is genetically strikingly similar to bone cancer in humans. In fact, there might be more in common, genetically, between a dog and a child with bone cancer, than between two children with the disease.

“There is also huge potential to learn from animal cancers such as soft tissue sarcoma, lymphoma, and prostate and brain tumours, as many share significant commonalities between humans and animals.

“Wouldn’t it be good if we were to try to save the lives of these animals and humans with a joined-up effort?”

  • Read the full interview with Prof Fitzpatrick in the 5 September issue of Veterinary Times.
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5 Comments on "Joint effort plea in treatment of human and animal cancer"

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Hilary Brewer
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Hilary Brewer
8 months 23 days ago
I cannot understand the reticence of some parties to even just talk without signing up to anything initially. Progress should be made at every available opportunity whether to benefit humans or animals. As long as the resulting drugs/ procedures are tested thoroughly I can’t see a down side, unless it comes down to funding streams. As someone who has been told I have a genetic predisposition to cancer and have a 95% chance of developing it, please continue with your attempts to establish one medicine principles in the UK. Why would anyone think it sensible to fund research for animals… Read more »
Carol Bulleyment
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Carol Bulleyment
8 months 23 days ago
I completely agree with the Proff. Watching the recent programs in which we saw the most wonderful skills Noel used to help dogs and cats with diseased bones and soft tissue, as well as injuries and birth defects, I constantly thought that there must be so many of those skills transferable to use in humans, which would also mean that human medicine could help dogs and cats etc. There needs to be some serious cosharing of information between consultants and vets, specifically Noel, with a goal of improving the prognosis and health of all species who share similar anatomy and… Read more »
Heather Simpson
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Heather Simpson
8 months 22 days ago

I’ve had family members die with cancer, both human and animal. Cancer is cancer.Joint approach makes sense.

Jaine Le Cornu
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Jaine Le Cornu
8 months 22 days ago
Unfortunately the barriers of money, power and ego need to be put aside by the relevant professions, commercial enterprises and Government to enable the re-convergence of animal and human medicine. Research and Development funding needs to be re-aligned to give equal funding levels for both human/animal and joint clinical research (stop re-inventing the wheel, economies of scale etc.). The principle of 3 r’s (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) in humane animal research is 50 years old and needs to be updated to 4 r’s to include Reciprocity, so that animals friends with the condition are treated in the same way as… Read more »
Jaine Le Cornu
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Jaine Le Cornu
8 months 21 days ago

It is inconceivable that drugs tested on animals to treat cancer in humans are not then readily accessible(cost?licensing?) to the veterinary profession to treat animal friends who present with the disease. Leave alone that sharing of clinical data must speed-up the development and improvement of cancer treatments.

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