This algorithm is designed to identify these genetic indicators across many dog breeds with different types of cancer: say, a bloodhound with lymphoma or a golden retriever with hemangiosarcoma. When the PetDx team began their study, they used the blood of 224 dogs to refine their algorithms-whether or not they had cancer. This “training set” has helped PetDx determine a threshold for each genomic variation, determining what their signal should say instead of just the word.
They then published the algorithm in data from 876 other dogs. For each, it will give a binary answer: yes cancer, or not cancer. (For most cancers, no form of it can detect it.) Pet owners and veterinarians already know if their dog has been diagnosed with cancer, but PetDx researchers did not, so as not to affect their analysis. The team then compares their results with the vets’ previous diagnoses.
Overall, the algorithm captures about 55 percent of the total cases, representing 30 types of cancer. This was most accurate when detecting late-stage cancer or any type of invasive type. For the three most invasive cancers, OncoK9 gave the correct answer 85 percent of the time. For all metastatic cancers, the figure was over 80 percent. For the eight most deadly cancers, it was 62 percent. “Any one of these numbers is a huge improvement over the current example,” Flori said. He estimates it is between 3 and 10 percent for early-stage cancer.
Cici Pepperoni became one of the positive tests – a surprise for Incera and their veterinarians. The company informed the veterinarian, who scheduled a scan in May 2021, which revealed an increase in the dog’s lungs and a mass in his heart. “We understand, oh my God, he has cancer, not just cancer A lot Cancer, ”said Insera.
It was diagnosed with hemangiomasarcoma – a death sentence. Hemangiosarcoma usually manifests itself as an emergency, when a tumor around the dog’s heart suddenly bleeds. “They are broken. They have anemia. They are bleeding, “said Flori. Their families have to come to the rescue. “Suddenly, they’re going to have to decide this life or death at the ER clinic.”
But since OncoK9 Siki’s case was caught many months ago, Insera’s family had a choice. They may try palliative care to reduce the risk of bleeding, or chemo to shrink the tumor. They chose the former to keep CC more comfortable. By July, he had vague symptoms. Weight loss. Cough. “He’s starting to get a little more space,” Incera said. The veterinarian noticed fluid in his chest. Inser’s family ready to say goodbye.
They bring Cici to San Diego’s Dog Beach so she can run and have as much fun as possible. They have come up with the most favorite treats, including pepperoni pizza. He didn’t eat much anymore, but Siki wasn’t disappointed: “He took a slight bite,” Incera said. “It was the last moment of our joy.”
Cici’s case illustrates the thorny moral controversy surrounding the diagnosis of early cancer in dogs. Dogs don’t have as many treatment options as humans. And blood tests still need to be confirmed by imaging and biopsy, so pet owners who can’t afford further tests can choose to wait and see. “If it works, it’s going to be great for dogs,” said Eleanor Carlson, a computational biologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who studies the genomics of dog disease. (Carlson is not involved with PetDx and is an unpaid scientific advisor to Canine Cancer Analysis startup Fedocure.)