Comparative oncology looks to defeat cancer in dogs and people

Medical and veterinary schools are partnering to find new treatments for cancer. This new field of “comparative oncology,” which tries to develop new treatments for dogs with an eye to how they could be adapted to treat people, is becoming continually more popular. The National Cancer Institute, for example, is now overseeing canine trials at almost two dozen academic veterinary schools.

At the University of Kansas, researchers developed an injectable chemotherapy treatment. They started running trials in 2012 with seven large-breed dogs with small forms of oral cancer. Of those seven, cancer in three of the dogs went into remission and two had partial remission or slowing of the disease. The team is continuing trials and hopes that they will be able to start human trials within the next several years.

Other researchers, like those at the University of Pennsylvania, have been working on an immunotherapy treatment for osteosarcoma after amputation and chemotherapy treatments as reported in the Washington Post. The vaccine is developed to stimulate the immune system and eliminate any cancer cells remaining after chemo. This study started in 2012 with 18 dogs, who survived a median of 956 days after treatment—an improvement from the usual median of 423 days. The vaccine is now being taken to nationwide trials. It is also in early trials for humans.

While still in trial stages, researchers are optimistic of future success that will help treat cancer in dogs and people alike.

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