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Vaccine trial for dogs with bone cancer at UQ

University of Queensland veterinary researchers are recruiting pet dogs diagnosed with cancer to test an experimental vaccine.

The clinical research trial is for dogs recently diagnosed with canine appendicular osteosarcoma, a common bone tumour that affects 10,000 dogs a year globally.

Dr Abhilasha Dadhich from UQ’s School of Veterinary Science said researchers will assess two vaccine formulations.

“These treatments aim to stimulate a dog’s immune system to fight the spread of cancerous cells to other tissues of the body,” Dr Dadhich said.
“We’re essentially ‘waking up’ the dog’s immune system to fight the cancer.
This has real potential to enhance the life expectancy of the pets in the trial.”

To be eligible, dogs need to have been diagnosed with appendicular osteosarcoma of long bones of the limbs with no evidence of metastasis, or cancer spread, based on a physical exam and radiographs.

Dogs can be any breed but must be proceeding to surgery to treat their cancer.

“If the dog meets these parameters, their owner will simply need to sign an informed consent document after the trial has been explained,” Dr Dadhich said.

“The veterinary clinic will then collect blood and cancerous bone tissue from the dog at the time of surgery.

“Our prepared treatment is provided for free, administered to the dog in two doses. “The first vaccine dose will be given within two weeks of their surgery and the second dose as a booster three weeks later.

“Further blood samples from the dog will be collected to assess its immune response.”

Barney, owned by Professor Allavena, was given an early version of the vaccine when diagnosed
with an aggressive bone cancer and 10 months later is alive and well.

Professor Rachel Allavena, who is leading the team conducting the trial, said it was hoped immune treatments would one day be a straightforward process for veterinarians around the world.

“This technique has incredible potential to reduce suffering in our pets and eventually a variation may even be able to help humans,” Professor Allavena said.

“We’re very eager to kick off this trial, as we have promising results from prior trials for dogs with cancer.”

Pet owners able to take their dog to the UQ VETS Small Animal Hospital at Gatton for surgery and treatment will be preferentially selected, however the team would also like to recruit patients from elsewhere in Australia, except NSW (due to an ethics requirement).

The project team includes experienced veterinarians, board-certified pathologists and clinical trial experts who will provide regular monitoring and follow ups.

Applications for the trial can be made via this webform, or questions can be directed to Dr Dadhich or Dr José Granados Soler

MEDIA RELEASE, 21st July 2023

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