AU Researcher Develops Bone Cancer Therapy for Dogs

By: Dorothy Sherman

AUBURN, AL – a better therapy for dogs with bone cancer, that's what could stem from
research underway at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The idea is that what kills a dog with bone cancer is isn't the tumor
on his leg, which is where they get them normally, but it's the
matastasis to the lungs. the tumor that spreads to the lungs, and we're
using a virus to go after that tumor” Director of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer, Dr. Bruce Smith said.

Dr. Smith is experimenting the therapy in a clinical trial on dogs with
bone cancer. In the trial he's amputating the dog's tumor, and injecting a virus, normally known as hepatitis vaccine for dogs. The
virus circulates through the body to the lungs, killing the cancer
cells.  Dr. Smith said for the past five years he's been developing this
treatment, testing it in the lab, making significant progress.

“We did a very some group of dogs with tumors that belonged to
clients, a small clinical trial, and we were able to show that the virus
was able to infect the tumor replicate and kill tumor cells,” Dr. Smith said.

This bone cancer research has the possibility of not just helping dogs, but humans too.

“With many of the things we do with animals we like to think about a one
medicine approach, which means that what we learn in one species can be
applied to any other species.  And, that's absolutely true with this
study,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith said the virus has to infect the species that's targeted.
So, humans would be infected by a different virus than dogs.

“What we learn in the dog, that is how the virus behaves, how the dog's
immune system responds to that, how the tumor responds are all things
that will then allow us to do the same experiments with people, and ask
the same questions,”  Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith said short term they hope to answer questions about how dog's
immune system recognizes tumors and how the virus works. And, long term
he hopes the therapy will allow dogs to live longer than the typical nine
months from normal treatment.

If you have a dog with bone cancer and are interested in participating
in the trial, have your veterinarian call Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine to make an appointment with the oncology service.