How treating dogs might help human cancer patients
The UC Davis Comparative Oncology Program joins oncologists at both the vet school and cancer center to test novel treatments on companion dogs with spontaneous tumors that could be effective in human patients with cancer. Human clinical trials could be started this year.
In one such effort, radiation oncologist Arta Monjazeb from the cancer center is working with William Murphy, professor in the Department of Dermatology, and Michael Kent, a veterinary school oncologist, on a clinical trial in dogs to test the effectiveness of a novel triple therapy that combines radiation with immune therapies. After radiation treatment, the dogs in the canine clinical trial are given immune-enhancing drugs that stimulate the immune system to mount a response against the tumor and other drugs that help stop the suppression of the immune system caused by the tumor.
Combination therapy for maximal response
“The combination therapy is like putting one foot on the gas and taking the other off the brake at the same time,” says Monjazeb. “This strategy promotes maximal response against the cancer.” In a paper on the canine trial published in 2016, the researchers reported that the triple therapy worked to reduce the spread of cancer and improved survival in dogs, findings that give the investigators hope that because canine tumors closely reflect human cancer, this approach will be effective in humans with cancer. “The translation to the clinic is being accelerated,” Monjazeb reports. “We anticipate that our first two human clinical trials growing out of this research will open this summer.”
Source: UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center