Bone Cancer Research in Great Danes

Researchers at the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are jointly working on a research project to investigate possible genetic risk factors for bone cancer (osteosarcoma) in dogs. They hope also that their research will result in improved treatment for this terrible disease. Danes, like many giant dogs, are at increased risk for bone cancer, so this study may result in information that can directly improve the health of our breed.

Needed are not only Danes that have been diagnosed with bone cancer, but also any Veteran Dane (6 years or older) who has *never* been diagnosed with cancer of any kind. To participate in the study, a blood sample is required; all materials will be provided by the research team (contact point below). The research team emphasized it is also absolutely necessary that all participants must also provide a three-generation pedigree (with birthdates noted for the dogs offering blood samples). All such information will be kept as privileged information for use only in the study and will not be made available to any outside parties. For the osteosarcoma-affected dogs, a report from the veterinarian documenting the method of diagnosis is also required. (Without this information, a dog cannot be used in the study.) For more information and/or to request kits/send samples, contact:

Snaevar Sigurdsson, PhD
Vertebrate Genome Analysis Group
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
7 Cambridge Center, 6112-J
Cambridge, MA 02142
Tel: +1 617-714-7798
Fax: +1 617-714-8956

Please email for more information and to let us know you are sending samples:

PHONE: 617-252-1093. 


Tel: +1 617-714-7798
Fax: +1 617-714-8956

Whole blood with EDTA: two 3-5 ml samples requested.



The world of dog geneticists, oncologists, veterinarians and dog owners is about to change! The Canine Genome Sequencing Project, based here in Boston at the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT, finished sequencing the dog genome this summer. Now, we are using this important new resource to find genes for osteosarcoma, and we hope to look at other canine diseases, including cancer, diabetes and epilepsy, in the near future. Please help us by sending us a DNA sample from your purebred dog. We prefer blood samples, which give us more DNA and much higher quality DNA, but would appreciate a cheek swab if a blood sample is not possible. Please see our flyer for more details on our research. For each dog we also need a signed consent form and an AKC number or other pedigree information.

We are collecting DNA from all dog breeds so we can search for genes for many different dog diseases. Our current study is on osteosarcoma, but we are starting studies on melanoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mammary cancer and other cancers. Of particular importance for the bone cancer study are samples from: Rottweilers, Greyhounds, Leonbergers,, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs,,Bullmastiffs,,Labrador Retrievers,Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Scottish Deerhounds.

The Institute's research information flyer states:
If you have any healthy dog (especially a dog 8 years or older), we would really appreciate a blood sample and the registration number or pedigree information. If your dog has osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma, mammary cancer, or any other cancer, please ask your veterinarian to draw a blood sample and send it to us together with the clinical information including a copy of the pathology and histology reports.

Below is a letter from Dr. Kenine Comstock about the disease and their
current research project:

"Eight thousand to 10,000 cases of a malignant bone tumor called osteosarcoma are reported in dogs in the United States annually, representing a very significant health concern. Sadly, in the majority of cases, spread of the tumor through the body and death follows within a few years. Osteosarcomas affect all dogs, but the disease frequency is considerably higher in large and giant breeds, including the Great Dane. It has been suggested that genetics may play an important role in this disease. Our group of scientists from the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have initiated a project to identify the genetic risk factors for osteosarcoma. We expect that this study should lead to considerable improvements in treatment of osteosarcoma. In addition, our findings will allow the development of genetic tests for osteosarcoma that could be used to eliminate carriers from breeding populations, eventually reducing the frequency of this devastating cancer."

"We are collecting blood samples from Great Danes affected with osteosarcoma. In addition, we are collecting blood samples from healthy Great Danes who are over 6 years old and have never been diagnosed with cancer. To participate in the study, Great Dane owners can simply request a collection kit from us, take their dog to their own veterinarian to have the blood samples drawn, then send the sample back to us along with a copy of the dog's pedigree. We would greatly appreciate your help with this study.....I do need to stress some very important points: We absolutely need the dogs' three-generation pedigrees, birthdates and, for osteosarcoma-affected dogs, a report from the veterinarian documenting the method of diagnosis. Without this information, a dog cannot be used."

Best regards,
Kenine Comstock, Ph.D
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor MI

Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Ph.D
Broad Institute
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA


Best Regards, JP Yousha
Chair, H&W, GDCA

Permission to reprint as submitted for educational purposes is given. 
Updated by JP Yousha, H&R Committee, GDCA 2008



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