Leveraging artificial intelligence for early canine cancer detection


Morris Animal Foundation and Golden Retriever Foundation fund a study that examines dogs at high risk for developing diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota is testing a new approach to early cancer detection for dogs at risk for developing diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The study, funded by the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) and the Golden Retriever Foundation, is named "test and intervene," and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze pieces of DNA fragments in blood.1 Findings may help identify dogs at higher risk for DLBCL and potentially offer an avenue for cancer prevention.

DLBCL is a very aggressive form of cancer and is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in dogs and humans.2,3 It is typically treated with “CHOP” chemotherapy protocols incorporating the drugs cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (hydroxydaunorubicin), vincristine (Oncovin), and prednisone. According to Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, the CHOP treatment method has cured about 30-40% of humans with DLBCL, but less than 1-2% of dogs. The university believes that this disparity in cure rates may be due in part to the fact that humans receive all of the drugs in CHOP all on the same day, whereas dogs receive the drugs one at a time at weekly intervals.3

This study is currently tapping into MAF’s ongoing Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to identify DNA patterns in the dogs' blood before cancer development. "Morris Animal Foundation is proud to continue our partnership with the Golden Retriever Foundation and extend the impact of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study with this important research on canine lymphoma," said Kathy Tietje, MBA, PhD, chief program officer for Morris Animal Foundation, in a news release.1

Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, analyzes a sample in the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Morris Animal Foundation)

Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, analyzes a sample in the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Morris Animal Foundation)

"When given the opportunity to provide significant funding for this study, the Golden Retriever Foundation was excited to be a part of LyRA (project) as well as a continued partnership with Morris Animal Foundation," said Christine Miele, president of the Golden Retriever Foundation. "Lymphoma sadly affects about one in eight dogs and results in both expense and loss of companionship. We are looking forward to the day of early detection and the application of prevention and treatment."1

MAF and the Golden Retriever Foundation are hoping this research can extend to other mammals including cats, endangered species, and even humans. Another goal is to expand the research for insights into aging, cancer risk, and other chronic conditions beyond detecting DLBCL.1

"The LyRA test will categorize dogs into low or high risk for developing this form of cancer and will guide in the creation of prevention strategies for dogs deemed high risk," said Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, the study's principal investigator and Perlman Professor of oncology and comparative medicine, and the director of Animal Cancer Care and Research Program at the University of Minnesota. “We want to be very mindful about how everything we do has the potential to promote graceful aging, not only for our domestic companions but also for other animals that make the world a place that we all want to live in.”1


  1. Novel research leverages AI to identify dogs at higher risk for cancer. News release. Morris Animal Foundation. March 26, 2024. Accessed March 27, 2024. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/novel-research-leverages-ai-to-identify-dogs-at-higher-risk-for-cancer-302099825.html
  2. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Lymphoma Research Foundation. Accessed March 27, 2024. https://www.lymphoma.org/understanding-lymphoma/aboutlymphoma/nhl/dlbcl/
  3. Canine B-cell lymphoma clinical trials. Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed March 27, 2024. https://vet.purdue.edu/wcorc/clinical-trials/canine-b-cell-lymphoma.php#:~:text=Diffuse%20large%20B%2Dcell%20lymphoma%20(DLBCL)%20is%20the%20most,ncovin)%2C%20and%20p%20prednisone.
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