This week I had planned on shedding some light on when it might be appropriate to consider euthanasia for a dog with cancer. I've decided to postpone that article in order to share some exciting news with you.
Recently, a vaccine was created by Arizona State University researcher Stephen Johnston that is aimed at preventing canine cancer. If effective in dogs, Johnston hopes that it may one day help prevent cancer in people.
Three veterinary schools are participating in the trial (University of Wisconsin, Colorado State, UC Davis), which intends to enroll 800 dogs. Colorado State and UC Davis are still accepting patients; the University of Wisconsin is fully enrolled as of June 3, 2019.
The dogs must fit the following criteria:
-Age: between 6 and 10 years of age
-Weight: at least 12 pounds (5 kg)
-No history of previous cancer
-No significant other illness that could result in a life span of fewer than 5 years
-No history of previous autoimmune disease
-No current treatment with oral or injectable immunosuppressive medications (such as prednisone, cyclosporine, mycophenolate, or tacrolimus)
-Be on a list of specified breeds or be mixed breed (see CSU link for list)
Four hundred dogs will receive the vaccine and 400 dogs will receive a sham or placebo vaccine - neither the dog owners nor the clinical trials teams at the veterinary schools will know which dog receives which. All dogs must live within 150 miles from one of these three veterinary schools to participate. Only certain breeds will be accepted.
The dogs will live at home. After the initial vaccine series, they will undergo evaluation at one of these veterinary schools every 2-3 years for approximately 5 years. The goal is to determine if, over their lifetime, the vaccine was helpful in decreasing the incidence of common canine cancers.
The anti-cancer vaccine targets approximately 30 abnormal proteins often found on the surface of cancer cells. The hope is that the vaccine will stimulate the immune system to recognize and kill these abnormal "cancer proteins" whenever they are noted throughout the body, thus preventing cancer.
If you live within 150 miles from Davis, CA or Fort Collins, CO and are interested in enrolling your dog in the trial, click one of the links below to begin the process and see if he qualifies.
If you're interested in participating at UC Davis, use this link:
UC Davis VACCS: Vaccine Against Canine Cancer Study
If you're interested in participating at U of W, use this link:
No longer accepting patients
If you're interested in participating at CSU, use this link:
CSU VACCS: Vaccine Against Canine Cancer Study
Have questions about this article? Reach out!
Dr. Lori Cesario
Board Certified Veterinary Oncologist
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