- A decade of research and $20 million in grants yields an impressive recipe for uncovering new information about retrovirus-associated cancer as it affects both animals and humans.
Dr. Michael Lairmore
The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine announced in July that a team of its researchers working in the school's Center for Retrovirus Research have, along with human medicine collaborators from OSU's Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), earned for the second time a competitive research grant from the National Cancer Institute.
The grant, worth $10.9 million over five years, was awarded to the university by the National Cancer Institute and will allow researchers from OSU's veterinary college to continue its studies of retroviruses. Examples of retroviruses include equine infectious anemia in animals and T-cell leukemia and lymphoma in humans.
The first grant, worth $8.9 million, was awarded to the university in 2003 for studies investigating how some retroviruses cause white blood cells, or lymphocytes, to change into cancer.
The continuation of the study includes five interactive projects and three administrative cores, according to principal investigator Michael Lairmore, DVM, Ph.D. Lairmore also is professor and chair of the department of veterinary biosciences at OSU, associate director for basic research at the CCC and is a member of the CCC's Viral Oncogenesis Program.
The way the study is being conducted is a great example of a new trend of tying together human and animal medicine, Lairmore says.
"We have MDs; we have PhDs and DVMs and DVM PhDs that are involved in this project, so you really cover the gamut of degrees involved in this research," Lairmore says, adding the collaborative atmosphere of the study is closely linked to the One Health Initiative started last year by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Medical Association. "We do exemplify the same theme. There's lots of overlap, lots of efforts to study both human and animals."
Conducting studies in unison allows both animal and human medical researchers to gain a broader understanding of how viruses and other afflictions operate, he says. For example, Lairmore says retroviruses were discovered in animals long before they were discovered in humans, and many viruses that cross species belong to the same group, like the bovine leukemia virus and human immunodeficiency viruses.
The key to this research is to find common ways these viruses act in each species, Lairmore says.