A trial at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine is introducing a groundbreaking treatment for dogs suffering from osteosarcoma. Dogs in the trial are receiving an experimental vaccine that trains the immune system to recognize tumor cells and to kill them- and it’s working!
More than 10,000 dogs are diagnosed each year with osteosarcoma, which is an aggressive type of bone cancer. Most dogs die within a year of diagnosis, but in this trial, many of the dogs in the study have survived for more than two years. Check out this video to see an update on Denali, a therapy dog enrolled in the trial.
The biology of canine osteosarcoma is the same as the biology of these tumors in children, so the information gained from this study could one day help children with osteosarcoma. There are also types of breast cancer that have similarities to osteosarcoma, so the human benefits aren’t limited to one type of cancer.
Researchers are looking for more dogs with osteosarcoma to participate in this trial. Does your dog qualify? If so, check out the link here for more information.
Veterinarians are investigating a gold-based drug as a treatment for dogs with osteosarcoma. About 80% of canine bone cancers are osteosarcomas, and generally the treatment involves limb amputation. Unfortunately, these cancer cells can spread to the lungs, so vets are looking at treatments that can help increase the survival rate of dogs with this disease.
Gold has been used in human medicine for autoimmune disorders because of its anti-inflammatory properties. This drug- aurothiomalate- has been used in humans in the past, and it has been successful in reducing cancer spread to the lungs. Researchers will start with cell cultures and mouse studies to determine this drug’s effectiveness for bone cancer.
It’s common that diseases in humans and animals are similar, and it would be great if this treatment proves to be successful in dogs AND humans! Read more about it here:
An opportunity for dogs to help people AND other dogs? It’s a win-win situation. It turns out that the biology of the most common kind of bone tumor in dogs (osteosarcoma) is that same as the biology of these tumors in children. By working with dogs with bone tumors, researchers can try different kinds of drugs in an attempt to increase the dog’s lifespan. While there’s no guarantee that a drug that works on these dogs will work in a human patient, researchers can get more information about the way the drug works on this particular cancer. This information will help them make a more educated guess as to whether or not it would work in a human. And while it would definitely be amazing if they could translate their results into humans, at the very least, they’re working hard to find an appropriate treatment for dogs with this disease!
In some research studies, animals are specifically bred for the particular study. In this study, their clinical trial involves pets that already have cancer. It’s estimated that only 5% of dogs with osteosarcoma will live past the age of 2. Awesome research- check it out!