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Critical links

Cancer is an ecumenical disease. With equal ferocity, it strikes across species lines, afflicting cats, dogs, chickens, mice and humans, among others.

While this bodes ill for individuals afflicted with the disease, scientists believe that cancer's apparent indifference to species in fact fuels their efforts to find cause and cure.

"A lot of the techniques, procedures and drugs that are used against human cancers were first researched and developed with the use of experimental animal models," said Neils Pedersen, professor in the veterinary school's Department of Medicine and Epidemiology and director of the Center for Companion Animal Research and the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. "Now we're applying a lot of the things that are being used in humans on our animal patients.

"This supports the concept that there really is just one medicine. We may be dealing with different species, but we're finding at the molecular and genetics level that many diseases in humans and animals really are the same."

Perhaps nowhere are researchers better positioned to take advantage of the commonalties between diseases in animals and humans than at UC Davis, which boasts top-flight scientists working in its medical, veterinary and agriculture schools, newly opened Center for Comparative Medicine and Northern California Regional Primate Research Center. Here, researchers from disparate fields are forming critical links based on the common goal of elucidating and eradicating cancer.


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