Canine clinical trials show potential to advance cancer treatment in humans: 5 things to know

In academic clinical trials across the country, oncology researchers are studying how pet dogs respond to cancer therapies and the genetic makeup of their tumors. Some of the data collected has already helped to progress human clinical trials for cancer treatment, according to an article in JAMA.

Between the worlds of medicine and veterinary medicine, there has been little communication throughout the years, but that is changing. Here are five things to know about canine clinical cancer treatment trials.

1. Breaking tradition: While the traditional development of cancer therapies has followed a three-step model — lab studies, mouse models and human clinical trials — the traditional model, to this point, does not have the best success rate. Only 11 percent of cancer drugs that show promise in mice prove effective and safe in humans. Neil Spector, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine who serves on the Consortium for Comparative Canine Oncology steering committee, said in JAMA, "Any other industry that had a [low] rate of success would be pretty unacceptable... something different has to be done."

2. Advantages: One of the potential reasons mouse trials are largely unsuccessful because mice live in sterile laboratories unlike humans who are constantly exposed to pollution, bacteria and ultraviolet light. Pet dogs live in the same environment and share the same associations with tumor development and growth as humans do. Canines are also ideal clinical trial subjects because their cancers progress rapidly due to the animal's shorter lifespan. This enables researchers to assess cancer progression and the efficacy of treatment in just a year or two. Clinical trials with humans can often take years more.

3. Valuable information: Some canine trials have already demonstrated the prospective value of dogs in oncology research. A canine trial for a potential melanoma treatment produced useful data on the drug's possible effectiveness and safety in humans. The information derived from the trial encouraged the sponsor's decision to move forward to a phase I clinical trial.

4. Limitations: The significant increase in size from mouse to dog requires higher doses of treatment, which drives costs upward. Also, while there is significant overlap when it comes to the kind of cancers that afflict both canines and humans, some cancers, like breast cancer, are quite rare in dogs.

5. Win-win: Approximately 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer annually. "We would love to see better treatments for our pets," said Dr. Spector in JAMA. Dr. Spector lost his own dog because of a metastatic mast cell tumor. "Can we not only improve the cutting-edge therapies for veterinary patients, but then take the lessons learned and create much more efficient therapies for humans? It really is a win-win for everyone."

More articles on quality: 
Senior patients frequently prescribed inappropriate drugs upon discharge 
Improving the patient experience one click at a time: 6 trends in patient care and tech 
Baptist Health Richmond partners with artists to improve patient experience

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars