Cancer vaccine for dogs an "important step" for human treatment: A'dam researchers
A cancer vaccine appears to greatly increase dogs' chances of surviving cancer, according to a study by Amsterdam UMC, Cancer Center Amsterdam, and an oncology center for animals, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on Monday. The researchers treated 35 dogs with spontaneous bladder cancer with the vaccine, and half are still alive 400 days later. Two even wholly recovered.
Without treatment, half of the dogs would have died within 180 days and all of them within a year, on average. The vaccine made the dogs' tumors disappear, shrink, or stop growing. The vaccine did not cause any side effects, the researchers said. They are very hopeful. "An important step towards a cancer vaccine for humans," said researcher Arjan Griffioen, professor of Experimental Oncology and Angiogenesis.
In 2006, the research team found a protein that only occurs in tumors' blood vessels. Figuring out the role of this protein was an important step in developing the vaccine for dogs. "First of all, this protein makes it possible for new blood vessels to form. And secondly, the protein switches off the immune system. Both the new blood vessels and the elimination of the immune system allow the tumor to grow faster."
The team, therefore, developed their vaccine to target this protein. "The vaccine proved effective in laboratory animals against colorectal cancer, skin cancer, and brain tumors. And now also in spontaneous bladder cancer in dogs," said Griffioen.
This vaccine was also used to treat a Malinois, who was diagnosed with bone cancer and had a very short life expectancy. The dog was completely back to normal three months after his tumor was removed and the vaccine administered, said the doctors from the Medical Center for Animals in Amsterdam who treated the 10-year-old Rax.
Reporting by ANP