Bailey S, Kow K, Lana S, Williams E, Withrow S
Appendicular osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common primary bone tumour in dogs, and the prognosis with standard of care therapy of amputation and adjunctive chemotherapy is generally poor, with median survival times of 1 year. The ability of neoplastic cells to maintain their telomere length, by either telomerase activity or alternate methods, is an important step in tumour development and malignancy. The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of telomerase activity in canine OSA. To evaluate the frequency of alternative lengthening of telomeres in canine OSA, we have used the telomeric repeat amplification protocol in five canine cell lines and in six samples taken from clinical patients at the time of amputation. Our results reveal the presence of telomerase activity in 100% of canine OSA cell lines and 83% of clinical samples evaluated. This is in contrast to human OSA where 25–40% expression levels of telomerase are reported. Importantly, our results not only suggest that canine OSA may serve as a good model for aggressive telomerase-positive forms of human OSA but also that antitelomerase therapy strategies for treatment of canine OSA may be more successful than in the treatment of majority of human patients with OSA.