Cancer vaccine could be used for humans

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby



A breakthrough cancer treating vaccine for canines could also benefit humans.

It’s being tested through a clinical trial at the Veterinary Cancer Center in Connecticut.

Valo, a Pit bull mix, is undergoing treatment at the Veterinary Cancer Center. Even more comforting for his owner is that Valo is taking part in the clinical trial.

“I’m excited for him because nothing has ever been offered to any dog before, so it’s really nice to know that there’s something out there,” his owner Marisa said.

The center offers a cancer vaccine just for dogs. It’s the culmination of years of human cancer research at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Mark Mamula is the lead investigator.

“It’s an anti-body response made from your white blood cells,” he said. “We find that in the laboratory they hone to; they target and traffic to the tumor; and start to kill and reduce the tumor size.”

Teaming up with the veterinary center is significant. It provides a practical setting to real patients – even four legged ones.

“If we happen to cure cancer along the way, great, but the purpose of this study is to determine whether the vaccine causes the dogs to make the antibodies,” Dr. Gerald Post with the center said.

If so, humans could also benefit.

“Dog cancers have the same, very similar onsets, genetics, aggressive nature of growth; very similar to what we see in humans,” Dr. Mamula said.

“This technology is directly applicable to dogs and potentially to cats,” Dr. Post said. “Some of the technologies in people are not directly transferrable, but this happens to be directly transferrable.”

Patients like Valo are injected twice with the vaccine and then monitored closely.

“We haven’t seen any negative effects of the vaccine, yet,” Dr. Mamula said. “We are acquiring data as we are speaking. We’ll know very soon how well actually works.”

So far no side effects for Valo.

“He still does his regular activities,” Marisa said. “Goes on hikes; comes to the barn with me.”