The following article appeared in the NYTimes. It's quoted in its entirety since now you must be a registered member to see it if I posted just the link.
They Fetch, They Roll Over, They Aid Tumor Research
By SINDYA N. BHANOO Published: October 22, 2010
An operation commonly performed to remove brain tumors from the pituitary glands of humans is now available to dogs, thanks to a collaboration between a neurosurgeon and some veterinarians in Los Angeles. And that is turning out to be good for humans.
So far, nine dogs and one cat that otherwise would have died have been treated successfully. The animals all had Cushing’s disease, a condition in which a tumor in the pituitary gland produces excess amounts of the steroid cortisol, leading to weight gain, muscle atrophy and high blood pressure.
“Pet owners want all sorts of procedures done on their animals,” said Dr. Adam Mamelak, the neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who taught the technique to the vets. “I didn’t realize how exceedingly sophisticated veterinary medicine is.”
What Dr. Mamelak has gained from teaching the procedure to veterinarians is access to tissue samples from the treated dogs. That’s significant because Cushing’s afflicts only one in a million humans making it a difficult disease to study. By contrast, the disease afflicts about 100,000 dogs a year in the United States.
The canine tissue samples are enabling him and his colleagues to develop drugs that might one day treat Cushing’s disease in both humans and dogs. “We have a full loop,” he said. “We’re using a human procedure in animals, and using their tissue to study the disease.”
The procedure was done by cutting a hole at the back of each dog’s mouths to enter the skull at the base of the brain. The surgeons used high-definition video monitors and a sophisticated scope that provided them with a 12x magnification of the operating field.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: October 22, 2010
An earlier version of this article misstated the incidence of Cushing's disease among dogs. It affects about 100,000 dogs a year in the United States, not 1 in 100,000 dogs.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
fascinating thanks for posting
I'm dealing with my first case of cushings (my dad's foster cocker) and it's tough to sort out all the info
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” H. Keller