Animal testing is generally a concept that raises the hackles of animal lovers everywhere. However, some testing doesn't just help people; it also helps our canine friends. Researchers at TGen are busy collecting thousands of samples from dogs who have developed cancer in the hopes of figuring out exactly which genetic factors lead to cancer.

Research to date indicates that the chances of getting cancer depend in no small part on whether you inherited the wrong genes from your parents. But due to the complexity of genetics and other factors, we have not yet managed to isolate exactly which genes make people more susceptible to cancer. It's very likely that cancer isn't triggered by one bad gene but rather several genes malfunctioning in concert with one another. TGen is collecting specimens from purebred dogs because their highly selective breeding means that there is low genetic variability between dogs of the same breed. If you've ever played a "spot the differences" game in the newspaper, you have a rough idea of what scientists are trying to accomplish. The fewer differences there are between samples, the easier it is to figure out which differences cause cancer. While this obviously is good news for dogs, it's also good news for us, because whatever we unravel from their genetic code might very well apply to us.

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