Back in 2004 my 106lb. happy, healthy German shepherd, Bear, suddenly got sick with Hemangiosarcoma. It’s an aggressive cancer that attacks the blood vessel cells and German shepherds are one of the breeds most prone to the disease. We fought the cancer with surgery and the best chemotherapy available at the time. Four months after being diagnosed, my precious boy was gone.
I’m sharing this story to let you know about a Yale canine cancer study that is using breakthrough technology. I strongly believe if Bear was diagnosed with cancer today, this clinical trial would have given him more time. I also want to let you know the study is recruiting participants and any dog with cancer is welcome to take part.
Yale School of Medicine and The Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, CT have teamed up for this exciting clinical trial that could have a big impact on the future of cancer treatment for dogs and people. It’s the culmination of years of work by cancer researchers at Yale that is now ready to test in the real world. The treatment is a cancer vaccine.
“Dog cancers have the same, very similar onsets, genetics, aggressive nature of growth, very similar to what we see in humans,” said Dr. Mark Mamula, lead investigator.
The vaccine is made from a patient’s own white blood cells. It is injected into a dog at two different intervals with the hope that it causes the patient’s body to produce antibodies to fight the cancer. The dogs in the clinical trial are monitored very closely throughout the process.
Yale researchers found that in a laboratory setting when white blood cells are removed from a patient and then transformed into a personal vaccine, they target malignant tumors and start to kill and reduce their size. There haven’t been any negative effects from the vaccine at this point.
One of the patients in the clinical trial is a Pit bull mix named Valo who has been diagnosed with cancer. His owner says the dog hasn’t experienced any side effects from the vaccine and is acting like himself and doing all of his regular activities.
Dr. Mamula said his team will know very soon whether or not the vaccine has a positive effect on Valo’s tumor.
Many times when researchers test a new medication or vaccine on pets, the outcome doesn’t translate well to humans, but the Yale staff is very optimistic this technology will benefit both animals and people. They also think the vaccine will work for cats, as well.
For more information about this breakthrough clinical trial, contact Gillian Rothchild at: [email protected].