One Health News

Comparative and Translational Medicine

by Christopher Clement

Although we’ve known about similarities in the health between people and animals for centuries, it wasn’t until recently we recognized that those similarities can be used to further understand and improve health of both people and animals through comparative and translational medicine. This falls under the One Health umbrella quite well.

The New York Times recently posted an article called “The Mystery of Wasting House-Cats” by Emily Anthes and explains how hyperthyroidism in cats was very uncommon until the 1970’s. There was a link between a class of flame retardants used in household goods and development of thyroid abnormalities in cats. Despite this, there is not a clear understanding how that could translate to human health. This story is a good example of how a unique population health case lead to the investigation and unveiling of a potential cause for an uncommon medical problem becoming common. It also highlights potential avenues for further research to be conducted in the human health field directly related to this. I highly recommend looking up the article!

“The Answer to Cancer May Be Walking Beside Us” is a documentary done at Colorado State University. It highlights the comparison between cancer in pets and cancer in people: the similarities, differences, and how that can be used for diagnosing and treating cancer. By using both animal and human models for diagnosis and treatment, we can “translate” that information to develop new methods for diagnosis and treatment across species boundaries. Pets provide a powerful model to study because they are commonly exposed to the same environmental factors that people are. This contrasts with rat/mice models where many environmental factors are strictly controlled and regulated. Check out this documentary when you have the time!

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is an ongoing study in which they are following 3,000 golden retrievers throughout their life and are studying the illnesses they may develop. This is similar to the Framingham Heart Study conducted in people where participants were studied throughout their lives and has provided profound amounts of invaluable information on the risk factors for heart disease. These studies are great examples on how lifetime studies can be used to recognize risk factors and incidence of diseases in entire populations, and helps in comparing research models across species.