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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

DNA Discoverer Watson Echoes Our Dog Cancer Approach

Updated: May 15th, 2024

Its all over the news wires.

James Watson, the Nobel Prize winner for his work in helping discover DNA’s double helix, is repeating what we have been been advocating for years in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and this blog.

One of the best ways to help deal with cancer is by targeting a mechanism that can help affect all cancer cells. This involves turning on genes that create a type of cell death called apoptosis.  Apoptosis is a very quiet, normal process whereby aged, damaged, or diseased cells commit genetically programmed cell suicide at the right time, allowing their parts to be recycled for use in new cells.

It turns out that this process can be deliberately targeted in an effort to create this type of cell death in cancer cells.  It is a logical method of decreasing the burden of cancer cells in the body. The typical methods of attacking cancer cells used in conventional veterinary medicine (chemotherapy and radiation) aim at dividing cells.  Cancer cells do divide rapidly, but unfortunately body cells also divide, and those that do so most may be damaged by our treatments. This may occur in the lining of the GI tract, the bone marrow, the skin, and so on.  This is not to say that the side effects seen in veterinary medicine are quite those seen in human oncology, as the doses are relatively lower, but they can indeed be significant from time to time.

The approach that is discussed at length in the Guide instead focuses on increasing apoptosis of cancer cells.  Here, the cancer cell can be targeted because they lack normal apoptosis, or cell death.  In other words, they are too old and deranged and should have committed suicide, but they don’t. They have genetic aberrations which allow continued division without cell death. They escape from normal apoptosis.

As it turns out, there are substances that occur in plants that are capable of selectively inducing apoptosis. These help normalize and support a normal process in the body, and so these compounds are in general very safe.  These compounds are called the dietary apoptogens.  It is this strategy that was used in the design of Apocaps, which was created to aid in supporting this normal process in dogs in my practice.

Dr. Watson also made a statement that mirrors our activity in the dog cancer space, including some very hostile feedback years ago when some of the ideas in the Guide and on this blog circulated the medical community: “”The biggest obstacle” to a true war against cancer, Watson wrote, may be “the inherently conservative nature of today’s cancer research establishments.” As long as that’s so, “curing cancer will always be 10 or 20 years away.”  A very interesting statement, especially considering we still lack a cancer cure for systemic cancers.

However, at this time, our ideas are finally beginning to penetrate the veterinary community. We hope that we continue to get support from both Nobel Prize winners as well as practicing veterinarians and oncologists.


Dr D


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  1. dogcancerblog on August 25, 2013 at 11:36 am

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