Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dr. Nicola Mason Bone Cancer Vaccine update

It is now over 16 months since the first dog diagnosed with spontaneous osteosarcoma received an experimental bone cancer vaccine at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The vaccine is being administered to pet dogs that have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive tumor that affects the long bones of large and giant breed dogs. With current standard of care, that consists of amputation and follow up chemotherapy, median survival times are between 200 and 300 days. The aim of the vaccine, given to dogs after amputation and chemotherapy, is to prevent metastatic disease and prolong overall survival. Of the first 5 dogs vaccinated in this clinical trial, 4 of the dogs are still alive and have survived between 500 and 590 days; three of these dogs are tumor free. Other dogs have been vaccinated more recently so long term survival data for these dogs is not yet available. “These results are really very exciting” Dr. Nicola Mason, the lead investigator on the trial explains. “They suggest that the vaccine is able to stimulate an effective anti-tumor immune response that is able to kill microscopic metastatic cells and prevent tumor recurrence in these dogs.” Importantly, the vaccine appears to be safe. Only low-grade toxicities consisting of a mild fever and occasionally one episode of vomiting the same day as vaccination have been reported. There have been no long or short-term complications observed with the vaccine. The results are highly promising and a larger phase II clinical trial is now being planned at Penn and at collaborating sites including Colorado State University and the University of Florida.

If you would like to learn more about the clinical trial, are interested in enrolling your dog, or wish to support Dr. Mason's research, visit http://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/centers-initiatives/canine-cancer-studies.

Any dog owner who has ever lost a beloved pet to cancer knows the heartbreak of this disease.  Mastiffs as other giant breeds are prone to the development of osteosarcoma.  If your dog qualifies for one of the ongoing studies, please consider having your vet contact PennVet and Dr. Nicola Mason and enrolling your dog in these clinical trial studies. These studies show great promise for advances in the treatment of this disabling disease. 

Catie C. Arney
KioKee Mastiffs