March 17, 2018

One Health: Canine, Human Cancer Organizations Fund Shared Study

Two leading organizations in cancer research have joined forces, taking a One Health approach on comparative oncology.
By Amanda Carrozza
AKC CHC V FoundationEarlier this week, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) and the V Foundation for Cancer Research announced a collaboration to fund cancer research for dogs. They’re confident that the partnership will benefit human health, too.

Although AKC CHF focuses on canine health and the V Foundation for Cancer Research has historically funded human studies, the 2 national organizations found an area of commonality: comparative oncology.

In recent years, comparative oncology—a discipline that integrates the naturally occurring cancers seen in veterinary patients into more general studies of cancer biology—has gained increasing attention from researchers and the public. Since humans and dogs develop similar cancers, the AKC CHF and V Foundation will jointly fund research in this field.

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“As veterinarians, we are trained to understand disease processes across species and have a clear understanding of the field of comparative oncology and comparative medicine,” AKC CHF CEO Diane Brown, DVM, PhD, DACVP, said. “What is important now is to see human medicine working closely with veterinary medicine to benefit all species, and in this case, dogs and humans.”

The first project to be jointly funded addresses a treatment option for urothelial carcinoma, or bladder cancer. Annually, bladder cancer affects approximately 79,000 humans and 40,000 dogs. Specific breeds, such as Scottish terriers, West Highland white terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, beagles, and Parson Russell terriers, are most commonly diagnosed with bladder cancer. Although the current standard of care for this disease consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and chemotherapy or radiation therapy, treatment rarely leads to a cure.

The 2 foundations have provided a $183,146 grant for a new bladder cancer clinical trial. As outlined in the grant, the research team—led by Nicola Mason, BVetMed, PhD, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine—will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a targeted immune therapy that aims to promote a powerful immune response against a specific gene mutation (V600E B-Raf). This mutation has been identified in up to 87% of dogs with bladder cancer. The researchers believe that vaccine-induced, anti-tumor immune responses will lead to tumor regression.

“Together we are stronger, and joining forces for bladder cancer research just makes sense,” Dr. Brown said.

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