Dr. Nicola Mason B.Vet.Med., PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine), is associate professor at Penn Vet, at the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research is focused on using “canine cancer vaccines” in dogs with lymphoma or osteosarcoma. The purpose of the vaccine is to “kick start” the dog’s immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. More detailed information about these two studies can be found at the Penn Vet website here.
In the case of canine osteosarcoma, it is a highly aggressive cancer in dogs and often requires the amputation of one of the dog’s limbs, followed by chemotherapy. However, even after amputation and chemo, it is possible that some cancer cells could remain in the body, leading to the spread of the cancer and possible eventual metastasis. Even with these treatments, “60% of dogs will die within one year of diagnosis,” according to an article from the Rottweiler Health Foundation.
The article goes on to say that “’the results so far appear to be promising’ Mason says. ‘If we compare our vaccinated dogs with a group of dogs with the same type of bone cancer and who received the same treatment, but were not vaccinated, we find that our vaccine group is surviving significantly longer.’ She also goes on to explain ‘we have observed very few, minor side effects including mild fevers and one –two episodes of vomiting 4-6 hours after vaccination. These side effects resolve on their own and are an indication that the patient’s immune system is being stimulated by the vaccine, which is what we are hoping for.’”
If you are interested in learning about other clinical trials that are ongoing at Penn Vet, the current list can be found here. The site allows you to search by animal and disease as well.