We catch diseases from animals (and they catch them from us), but this also means we sometimes share the same physical ailments.
Physicians have begun to realize that they can get good information about their human patients by consulting with Vets about the patients THEY'RE treating. Physicians want to study anomalies of the arteries and veins that are rare in humans but common in dogs. And veterinarians want to consult with physicians about setting up trials of a noninvasive device for removing tumors of the urinary tract with electrical impulses. Veterinary neurologist Jonathan M. Levine is working with dachshunds and other dwarf canine breeds, which often suffer from spinal cord injuries, to test a promising new drug that blocks a particular enzyme that inflicts secondary damage, like the aftershock to an earthquake, on injured spinal nerves. He recently won a grant from the Department of Defense, which is interested in the application of his research to battlefield injuries.
In the September 11 edition of the New York Times, William Grimes writes: "Exchanges of this sort are becoming increasingly common. Once a narrow trail traveled by a few hardy pioneers, the road connecting veterinary colleges and human medical institutions has become a busy thoroughfare over the last five years or so, with a steady flow of researchers representing a wide variety of medical disciplines on both sides."
One reason for this is the growing frustration with having to use mice in lab research on human diseases, because despite the fact that we share a large proportion of our genes with rodents, the results often don't translate across the species. Researchers are now looking at naturally occurring diseases in dogs, horses, sheep and pigs, since they more closely resemble humans. We can't GIVE these animals diseases (they way we do with mice), but we can study the diseases they get naturally.
Grimes quotes immunotherapist John Ohlfest as saying, "The drugs cure the mice and keep failing when we try them on humans. The whole system is broken."
Grimes quotes researcher Laurence J. N. Cooper as saying, "There's got to be a better way. Canine biologies look like ours, and the treatments look like ours."
He quotes veterinarian Chick Weisse as saying, "Traditionally there has been a 10-to-20-year lag between animal and human medicine. That gap has narrowed. Now you see renal transplants, hip replacements--things they said would never be done on animals. Things are happening so fast right now that it’s almost simultaneous."
Will you soon be taking the same blood pressure medicine as your dog? Stay tuned and see.
Lots of pets are obese, so the vet tells us to put them on a diet. Maybe they should tell some of US to go on a diet too! If you noticed that you're waddling along behind that leash, or that your lap is wide enough for three cats, may you need to lose weight, and we're here to help, with Anne Strieber's famous diet book which has now been REDUCED in price (so that YOU can reduce too!)