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6 June, 2019 - 12:58 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge PhD honoured for canine tumour research

Cambridge University PhD Adrian Baez-Ortega

A computational approach to finding new treatments for a certain type of canine tumours has earned a Cambridge University PhD a major accolade and the opportunity to further develop his work.

Adrian Baez-Ortega from Spain has won the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award as part of one of the largest and most highly regarded veterinary awards on the planet – the International Canine Health Awards.

Baez-Ortega, who is currently conducting his PhD in biological sciences at Cambridge, has been awarded a prize of £10,000 to help further his research into the evolution of canine transmissible venereal tumours (CTVT). The condition has infected domestic dogs for the past 8,000 years and is found in around 100 countries.

As part of his research, Adrian has developed a computational approach which identifies the exact genes that are active in biopsy samples taken from tumours, from more than 40 countries. This is likely to have fundamental importance in developing new methods for treating this disease.

Following completion of his doctorate, Adrian plans to continue this research, exploring the ways that CTVT interacts with each tumour’s host dog and how it avoids being destroyed by the canine immune system.

The awards, which are run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill of Metro Bank, highlight those individuals who go one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs through their work in the world of veterinary science.

Funding from the International Canine Health Awards will allow Adrian to extend his PhD research and enable him to gain more knowledge about which genes allow CTVT to systemically escape the immune system of infected dogs, in the hope that better understanding might lead to more effective treatment of this disease.

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