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Joint-species partnership aims to advance treatment of shared lung disease

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Lafayette, Ind. - 10/20/07 - Fibrotic lung disease does not discriminate against which species it infects--humans or canines--and respiratory specialists are following suit.

Lafayette, Ind. - 10/20/07 - Fibrotic lung disease does not discriminate against which species it infects -- humans or canines -- and respiratory specialists are following suit.

Human and animal researchers met this month to examine how disease study efforts taking place among two species sects can be collaborated to hopefully speed the creation of more effective identification, diagnosis and treatment for both dogs and people.

The Lafayette, Ind.-based meeting follows the growing trend between U.S. and British scientists in collaborating research and study efforts in hopes of making disease advancements across both species. The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Medical Association followed suit earlier this year, announcing their One Health Initiative .

"We are certainly encouraged about the opportunity this type of comparative research presents," says Jesse Roman, M.D., a human fibrotic lung disease expert from Emory University Medical Center. "It is know that dog physiology is similar to human physiology and this combined effort may provide findings that will be important to both bodies of knowledge."

Hosted by the Morris Animal Foundation , American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and Westie Foundation of America , the forum addressed the similarities between human and canine fibrotic lung disease -- most common in Westies -- which inlcude the shared symptoms of shortness of breath and a dry cough.

Claiming the same amount of human lives each year as breast cancer -- 40,000 -- the disease is characterized by extensive and progressive scarring in the lungs. There is no known cause, approved treatment or cure for either the human or animal disease strains.

"There is no question we in veterinary medicine can learn from our colleagues in human medicine. Their understanding of fibrotic lung disease is much more developed than what we know about the canine disease," says Kurt WIlliams, DVM, PhD, DACVP and assistant professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation from Michigan State University. "We believe that researching this disease in animals may move the field forward at a much faster pace than is possible in human medicine."

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