Cancer Trials

Cancer in Dogs

Dogs are twice as likely as humans to contract malignant cancer. For some of these the diseases and treatment are virtually identical for humans and dogs, so cancers in dogs can be used as models for human cancers. Like in humans, cancer in dogs is a naturally occurring disease with both genetic and non-genetic causes.

Clinical trials provide opportunities for owners to access new advanced treatments for cancer for their pets.

There has been an increased incidence of cancers in pets resulting from an increase in life expectancy due to advances in pet care such as nutrition and disease control. Veterinary clinical trials provide opportunities for owners to access new advanced treatments for pets with cancer and to contribute to future improved treatment for canine and human cancer patients.

Dogs suffer many of the same cancers as humans, for example, melanoma, osteosarcoma, mammary (breast) cancer and cancers of the brain and prostate.

The disease process and treatment for cancers in dogs are often similar to cancers in humans and so can be used as models for human cancers. Veterinarians treating cancers in pets use similar descriptions for disease stages, processes for developing treatment options and surgical approaches. Researchers expect that the responses to treatments in humans and dogs may also be similar in many cases.

As in humans, cancer in dogs is a naturally occurring disease, with both genetic and non-genetic causes. Recent work on the canine genome (DNA mapping) shows strong similarities to humans and also makes dogs a useful model for studying human cancer.

For example, current research into canine-human lymphoma is examining tissue samples from human and canine patients, with the hope of creating a genomic “profile” of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that will give oncologists and veterinarians greater insight into the disease’s biology, and improve their ability to diagnose the illness early.

Reference:

Paoloni and Khanna, 2008. Translation of new cancer treatments from pet dogs to humans, Nature Reviews Cancer. Published online 18 Jan 2008.

Melanoma Cancer Vaccine

Melanoma strikes around 50,000 dogs annually in the US, with survival rates in months. About 8,000 people in the US die each year from the disease.

Although canine melanoma can develop in the skin, it is not caused by UV light, as in people, but by a combination of genes and environment. The tumors mostly occur in the mouth. Round dark melanomas can also develop on footpads, nailbeds, lips and eyes. All dogs are susceptible but breeds with lots of dark pigment seem particularly vulnerable.

US researchers have been trialing a canine-melanoma vaccine through veterinary centres. The vaccine uses human DNA (a protein called tyrosinane in humans and canine melanoma cancer cells) and may one day have human application. Early trials show dogs with melanoma living up to 13 months rather than 5 months with conventional therapies (including surgery and radiation).

Source:

American Kennel Club Gazette 04/08

Canine-human Lymphoma Study

Researchers from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in the US are combining their expertise to pinpoint the cause of – and improve treatments for – non-Hodgkin lymphoma in human and canine patients.

The dog is an excellent model to study human cancer, particularly lymphoma. The disease is biologically similar in human and canine patients, but is much easier to narrow down problematic areas in a dog’s genome because the genetic variation among dogs of the same breed is so much lower than genetic variation in humans.

The research team is recruiting dogs diagnosed with lymphoma to collect tissue samples for study. Labs from both institutions are studying tissue samples from human and canine patients, with the hope of creating a genomic “profile” of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that will give oncologists and veterinarians greater insight into the disease’s biology, and improve their ability to diagnose the illness early.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma ranks fifth in cancer deaths among human patients, and the mortality rate for dogs is even higher. By combining the strengths of their programs, the researchers expect to enhance their understanding of the disease and speed improved treatments for people and pets. This is an example of ‘One Health,’ the concept of comparative medicine that acknowledges human and animal health relies on a common pool of medical and scientific knowledge and is supported by overlapping technologies and discoveries.

Source:

www.cvm.ncsu.edu

For Promising results from recent clinical trials treating cancer in dogs see Animal Clinical Investigations www.animalci.com

Prostate Cancer

Canine prostate cancer has been studied as a model for the disease in humans since the 1950s. A recent study reports that canine prostate cancer is a useful model for studying the deadliest form of human prostate cancer. Canine prostate cancer often metastasizes (spreads) to bone. Researchers are hopeful that studying the mechanism of the spread to bone in dogs could lead to advances in the prevention and treatment of bone metastisis in human prostate cancer.

References:

Prostate cancer in dogs and men: a unique opportunity to study the disease.
Argyle DJ. Vet J. 2009 May;180(2):137-8

Osteosarcoma

As part of the Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Centre for Cancer Research-Comparative Oncology Program (COPD) is currently trialling a new treatment for osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in dogs. The trial is a collaborative project involving human oncologists and veterinary specialists and the results are expected to be valuable to pets and human patients.

The existing conventional treatment for dogs with osteosarcoma involves amputation and chemotherapy. In about 90 percent of dogs, cancer recurs in the lungs within one year of treatment. Researchers hope that the treatment (a drug called rapamycin) will improve long-term survival by blocking an important pathway that improves the ability of cancer cells to grow and spread.

Sources:

Jeter, H., 2007. Getting a grip on bone cancer. Clinical trials tests new treatment drug.

D07CA-501: Evaluation of the m TOR Inhibitor Rapamycin in Dogs with Osteosarcoma.

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