Monday, March 7, 2011

Famous dog 'Hachiko' had heart and lung cancer, say researchers

Hachiko's stuffed and preserved body in a display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 14, 2010. (Mainichi)

"Hachiko," the famous loyal dog who had a statue made after him next to Shibuya Station, had severe lung and heart cancer that may have contributed to his death, researchers from the University of Tokyo announced.
The famous story of "Chuken Hachiko" (loyal dog Hachiko) says that after the death of his master, professor Hidesaburo Ueno, Hachiko continued to wait every day in front of Shibuya Station for the professor to return.
According to records at the University of Tokyo, Hachiko died in the pre-dawn hours of March 8, 1935 at the age of 13. Thirteen hours after death, researchers at the Tokyo Imperial University (currently the University of Tokyo) performed an autopsy on Hachiko's body and discovered many roundworm parasites in the heart and liquid collected in the abdomen. Microscopic observation of tissue was not yet commonplace at the time, so a detailed analysis of the cause of death was not carried out. It had long been thought that Hachiko died of filariasis caused by the roundworms.
However, in the recent research, the University of Tokyo team used advanced methods like MRI imaging and microscopes to analyze Hachiko's organs, which were preserved in formalin. In doing so they discovered the large cancers in the heart and lungs. They speculate that the cancer may have spread from the lungs to the heart.
"Heart cancer is rare and was a completely unexpected find. Hachiko had both serious filariasis and cancer, and either one could have caused his death," said professor Hiroyuki Nakayama, part of the research team.
Hachiko's preserved organs are displayed at a University of Tokyo resource center in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, along with a bust of his owner Ueno.
Source: Mainichi Japan
pre-dawn: before the rising of the sun
filariasis: a disease caused by worms in the blood or tissues of the body causing blockage
formalin: a solution used as a disinfectant or to preserve biological specimens
speculate: guess / a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence

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