National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund a new innovative Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) Research Project

June 19th, 2014

I have some new exciting news. As you all know we are always trying to find an new edge in the battle against canine cancer. And Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is one of those cancers we would like to get a better handle on since it seems to end up being diagnosed too late to save the dog. In fact, we are so keen on finding out how to deal with HSA that we have actually initiated our own research project on HSA with G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. This is very exciting for the NCCF because this type of research on HSA has never been tried. Let me tell you how it all came about by first talking about a dog name Batman.

Batman was the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, led by doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. They developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. First they removed the tumor surgically. Then, in some cases, they use local gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and finally they created a personalized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.

I personally love the thought of taking a cancer that was killing a dog and turning it into a personalized vaccine to kill the cancer!

Dr. Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Dr. Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Batman led a normal life unaffected by his tumor until his death from cardiac failure in February 2010, there was no tumor recurrence. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”

Then something interesting happened. Almost one year ago, Davis Hawn’s then 8-year-old yellow lab, Booster, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nasal sinus. Booster was given three weeks to live. Hawn did not want to accept the death sentence and began searching the country for a cure. His search led him to doctors in Florida who removed Booster’s tumor and gave him chemo. An online search then led him to Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar from the University of Minnesota’s canine brain tumor clinical program. Davis asked her to help his dog, but Dr. Pluhar had never made a vaccine for this type of cancer before. But Davis was not going to take no for an answer so she did agree to try. She shipped the vaccine off and ten months later Booster is cancer free.

Then after Davis contacted the NCCF to tell us about how well the vaccine works, we contacted Dr. Pluhar to ask if she would be willing to try the same research that was successful with brain cancer and skin cancer, and use the same protocol to try dealing with splenic HSA. The NCCF’s thinking is that with all these other cancers, the similarities were that the cancer had to be removed and a vaccine needed to be created from the cancer cells. With splenic HSA, one of the more common forms of HSA, the spleen is typically removed so we felt that Dr. Pluhar’s research could possibly work. With that in mind, we asked her if she could try and apply her protocol on splenic HSA. After doing some initial research she agreed to do the study based on reaching certain goals before going on to the next level.

First, she needs to insure that we can culture the cancer cells in the lab,

Second, she needs to insure that the tumor vaccines stimulate immune cells to attack tumor cells. If she can achieve these two steps she can go on to treat the HSA cancer. We could not be happier and are guardedly optimistic over this research project.

The cost for this project will be $55,500. I hope you are all as excited as we are about this research and will help fund the project. If you want to help with funding this new innovative NCCF’s initiated project please CLICK HERE or got to this link

http://wearethecure.org/giving/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=70

Thank you

Gary D. Nice
President and Founder
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Screening tests can uncover hidden conditions early in your pet

March 5th, 2015

Some dogs bury bones, while some cats squirrel away socks. But that’s not all our pets can hide; they often hide illness quite well.

From an evolutionary perspective, showing illness or weakness can be detrimental, so over time animals instinctively have hidden illness. Veterinarians are trained to pick up subtle cues that something is not right with your pet, but cannot learn everything through senses alone.

A physical exam should be performed by a veterinarian at least yearly. For older animals, twice a year is better. During the exam, you might hear terms such as “FeLV/FIV,” “fecal,” “chem panel,” “CBC” or “UA.”

What do these abbreviations and acronyms mean? Veterinary medicine uses abbreviations and slang for many recommended tests. You may wonder what these tests are, and why your veterinarian considers them important – especially if your pet seems perfectly fine.

Screening tests provide additional information and can detect potential problems earlier than can be picked up by physical exam alone. Because of their role in providing important – and even potentially life-saving health information – veterinarians at Colorado State University consider screening tests a cornerstone of preventive veterinary care.

Here are some common tests your veterinarian might recommend to protect your pet’s health or to find a problem early:

• Heartworm test: Heartworms are small parasites that your dog or cat can get from mosquito bites. The larvae, or immature worms, work their way to the large blood vessels of the lung and into the heart, causing damage and interrupting normal blood flow. The American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing and monthly preventive medicine to keep your pets safe. The test uses a few drops of blood and can be performed in the veterinary clinic.

• Complete blood count (CBC): Using a small amount of blood, a CBC tells us about the body’s ability to fight infection, produce red blood cells and platelets for blood clotting, and if an infection is present. Deviations from normal values may also indicate metabolic diseases or the length of time a disease has been going on. Because some animals normally fall above or below normal ranges without disease, it is important to have a baseline test run when your pet is young and healthy.

• Biochemical profile (aka “chem,” “chemistry” or “chem panel”): Another type of blood test, biochemical profiles can give us hints about kidney and liver health and give us clues about metabolic diseases like diabetes. Because some animals normally fall above or below normal ranges without disease, it is another important baseline test to run when your pet is young and healthy.

• Urinalysis (UA): As you might guess, this tests looks at your pet’s urine. Blood cells and bacteria do not belong in urine. So if these are found, we know there is a problem in the bladder or kidney. A urinalysis can also show us how well the kidney is working or whether your pet has diabetes.

• Feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus test (FeLV/FIV test): Feline leukemia and immunodeficiency are two different viruses that infect cats. Cat-to-cat contact is the most common way your cat may become infected, including mom-to-kitten transmission. Because these viruses interfere with the immune system’s ability to fight infection and can be fatal, all cats should be screened for these two viruses. Since these viruses are good at hiding in the body, all sick cats should be tested as well.

• Fecal flotation (aka “fecal” or “parasite screen”): The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends annual screening for gut worms. If your dog or cat has parasites, the eggs will be shed in feces and can be found by fecal flotation. The protozoan parasite Giardia can also be found if present. Some worms can be transmitted to people, so it is especially important to keep your pets on regular parasite control and to screen annually.

Along with a physical exam, these tests allow veterinarians to detect disease earlier and to provide treatments that can keep your pet happy and feeling good longer.

Article reposted from:
http://outbreaknewstoday.com/screening-tests-can-uncover-hidden-conditions-early-in-your-pet-91613/
By Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie

14 Surprising Pet Poisoning Dangers

March 4th, 2015

These foods and household items are harmless to you, but can be fatal for your cat or dog. Here’s how to keep your pets safe.

Your pets may feel like members of your family, but that doesn’t make them human. Foods and medications that are harmless to you-or even healthy for you-can actually be fatal for a dog or cat. Their bodies are different from ours, and while you probably know better than to let your furry friends near obviously harmful household chemicals and cleaners, the list doesn’t stop there. Keep your pet safe by storing these other dangerous items out of their reach. If you suspect your pet has eaten something he shouldn’t, contact your vet or poison control center immediately. “Don’t wait it out; it can make the difference between life and death,” says Karen “Doc” Halligan, doctor of veterinary medicine and chief veterinary officer for the Lucy Pet Foundation.

Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks

While the health perks of garlic are well known for humans, all veggies in the Allium family can cause serious damage to your dog or cat’s red blood cells, causing them to burst. Other consequences include anemia and kidney damage. Weakness and an upset stomach are signs your pet may have ingested garlic, onions, shallots, or leeks. Raw is more dangerous because the active ingredient is more concentrated, but cooked is also harmful. (Don’t worry if you see onion or garlic powder listed in your pet’s food—they’re harmless in powder form.)

Chocolate

Though dogs love this sweet treat, it can be deadly. “The important thing to know is that milk chocolate is much, much less toxic,” says Steven Hansen, president and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society and board certified veterinary toxicologist. “The most toxic is baking chocolate, then high-quality dark chocolate.” The cocoa beans in chocolate contain theobromine, a chemical that’s toxic in small animals. It can cause an increased respiratory rate, central nervous system disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, cardiac failure and even death. A potentially lethal dose for a 16-pound animal is two ounces of baking chocolate or 16 ounces of milk chocolate. One sweet treat you don’t have to worry about: white chocolate. That’s because white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, and therefore only trace amounts of theobromine.

Raisins and grapes

Though it isn’t understood why, raisins and grapes can cause life-threating kidney failure in dogs. (Cats don’t typically eat raisins and grapes—they tend to steer clear of sweeter foods.) Vomiting and diarrhea can start as early as four to six hours after eating them, and typically begin within 24 hours.

Macadamia nuts

As few as five or six of these nuts can a kill dog, thanks to an unknown toxin. They can cause seizures, depression, vomiting, and trouble walking—their rear legs can appear to be paralyzed. “It’s very dramatic and quite scary, but if they are treated right away the outcome is they recover within 48 to 72 hours,” says Hansen. Typically, the vet will pump the dog’s stomach and induce vomiting to clear out the macadamia nuts. Dogs may also be put on IV fluids in the hospital.

Sugarless chewing gum

Dogs and cats can’t process xylitol, an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugarless gum, the same way humans can. It affects their glucose levels and causes their blood sugar to drop so quickly that they can die from it. It can also lead to seizures and liver damage at fatal levels. Plus, if dogs sniff out gum, “sometimes they will eat the whole packaging and can get an obstruction from the material,” cautions Halligan.

Fruit pits

The pits in plums, peaches, and cherries, as well as apple seeds, aren’t just a choking hazard or an object that could get stuck in your pet’s intestines. The pits also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are cyanide-like compounds that can lead to difficulty breathing, excess salivation, shock, seizures, and coma in both dogs and cats.

Moldy food

“If your dog gets into the garbage can and eats some moldy cheese, it can lead to neurological problems, like trembling,” says Hansen. It also puts your furry friend at risk for toxicity, thanks to the tremorgenic mycotoxins found in moldy bread, pasta, cheese, nuts, and other foods. Watch out for vomiting, agitation, stumbling, tremors, and seizures.

Coffee

“Caffeine is the toxic ingredient here, so decaf would probably just cause diarrhea,” says Halligan. Caffeine contains methylated xanthines, which stimulate the central nervous system, meaning the heart can be overstimulated and lead to death. Ingesting caffeine can also cause vomiting.

Avocados

Avocados are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—but those fats are only healthy for humans. For your pets, the high fat content is bad news since it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and eventually pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). And if your dog or cat eats the pit, it can get lodged in their intestines and cause a blockage.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

“Every day in this country, some unsuspecting pet owner gives his pet a pill in the hope of making his dog or cat feel better, often with disastrous results,” says Halligan. “Prescription and over-the-counter medications can be lethal to pets; they don’t process drugs the same way humans do.” Acetaminophen can be fatal to dogs and cats because they lack the necessary enzymes to detoxify and break it down, leading to blood cell and tissue damage. Symptoms develop quickly and include weakness, salivation, vomiting, difficulty breathing, dark-colored urine or gums, and abdominal pain.

Aspirin (plain and buffered)

Two regular aspirin can kill a cat or a small dog. “Although it can be used safely as an anti-inflammatory in cats and dogs in appropriate dosages, it has the potential for serious side effects,” says Halligan. Cats are at a greater risk than dogs because they are deficient in the enzymes needed to metabolize this drug. Outward signs of aspirin toxicosis in cats include incoordination, depression, lack of interest in food, vomiting, loss of balance, bloody diarrhea, and panting. Cats may also develop severe anemia, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure. The signs for dogs are gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Vets prescribe anti-inflammatories to relieve muscle and joint pain, but the doses for pets are much smaller than for humans, says Halligan. That means you don’t want your pets getting their paws on your bottle. “Cats are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of NSAIDs due to their higher gastrointestinal absorption rates and decreased ability to metabolize these drugs,” Halligan says. They can cause life-threatening ulcers and bleeding disorders, and also reduce blood flow to kidneys and other organs, causing significant damage and bone marrow suppression. NSAIDS include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Plants

Houseplants can help you breathe easier by giving off oxygen and removing chemicals like formaldehyde from the air, but if your curious cat or dog takes a nibble, it could prove deadly. Eating a small amount of a mildly toxic plant isn’t always fatal, but large or repeated doses can be extremely dangerous, especially for cats. “Given the huge number of plants in existence, it’s impossible to know every single plant that may be toxic to your pet,” says Halligan. “As a general rule, plants that are listed as toxic to humans should also be considered toxic to animals.” The five most dangerous plants are lilies, azaleas, oleander, sago palm, and castor bean. Hansen also cautions that pets may want to play with—and chew on—bouquets, so keep an eye on those too. Signs of ingesting plants include vomiting, diarrhea, frequent urination, and drinking lots of water.

Marijuana

Dogs will eat just about anything you leave on the counter, including marijuana, says Hansen. Though it won’t kill your dog, you should take Fido to the vet right away if he’s eaten your pot. “They will recover with treatment but it can last several days,” Hansen says. Look for incontinence, weakness, lethargy, stumbling, low heart rate, dilated pupils, and sometimes vomiting.

Article reposted from:
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20904688,00.html
By Celia Shatzman

Study reveals possible biological trigger for canine bone cancer

March 2nd, 2015

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) have identified the biological mechanism that may give some cancer cells the ability to form tumors in dogs.

The recent study uncovered an association between the increased expression of a particular gene in tumor cells and more aggressive behavior in a form of canine bone cancer. It may also have implications for human cancers by detailing a new pathway for tumor formation.

Photo: Nik Hawkins

The findings, published online this month in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology, may eventually provide oncologists with another target for therapy and improve outcomes for canine patients with the disease.

The researchers examined cell lines generated from dogs with osteosarcoma, a common bone cancer that also affects people, with the intent of uncovering why only some cells generate tumors. After the dogs underwent tumor-removal surgery at UW Veterinary Care — the SVM’s veterinary medical teaching hospital — cells from the tumors were grown in the lab.

This led to six different cancer cell lines, which were then transplanted into mice. The researchers then looked to see which lines developed tumors and which did not and studied the differences between them.

“We found several hundred genes that expressed differently between the tumor-forming and nontumor-forming cell lines,” says Timothy Stein, an assistant professor of oncology. However, one protein called frizzled-6 was present at levels eight times higher in cells that formed tumors.

In the complicated process of gene expression, the genetic information encoded within DNA is eventually converted into RNA and proteins, which are responsible for a variety of vital cellular functions. Frizzled-6 plays a key role in relaying signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, acting as a sort of receiving dock for particular types of information.

Molecular connections like this activate pathways, some of which regulate the growth, differentiation and migration of cells when working properly. But when pathways go awry, they may contribute to the development of tumors and tumor-initiating cells. The role of frizzled-6 in this process is not yet fully understood.

“It’s exciting because it’s kind of uncharted territory,” says Stein, who is also a member of the UW Carbone Cancer Center. “While we need more research to know for sure, it’s possible that frizzled-6 expression may be inhibiting a particular signaling pathway and contributing to the formation of tumor-initiating cells.”

The study is a good example of how work at UW Veterinary Care can lead to a better understanding of disease, Stein says, and it highlights how basic science can be a bridge to clinical research.

Lucas Rodrigues, lead author on the canine bone cancer study, replaces a culture medium in which cancer cells are grown.

“Now I’d like to see what this means clinically,” he says. “Does frizzled-6 serve as a marker of a more aggressive disease? Will it help us improve the accuracy of our prognoses? These are the questions we want to answer.”

Stein also hopes to continue this line of research in human cancer patients. Meanwhile, the lead author on the study, Lucas Rodrigues, is continuing the investigation in dogs.

“Now we want to make sure that frizzled-6 is truly what gives these cells the ability to form new tumors,” says Rodrigues, a postdoctoral fellow in Stein’s lab.

While frizzled-6 may be the lone culprit, it is possible that a combination of multiple genes may lead to tumor formation, says Rodrigues.

The study was also co-authored by Victoria Thompson, an associate research specialist; Katie Holmes, a 2014 graduate of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program; and Michael Newton, a professor in the Departments of Statistics and Biostatistics and Medical Informatics.

Article reposted from:
http://www.news.wisc.edu/23521
By Nik Hawkins

Do Spayed and Neutered Dogs Get Cancer More Often?

February 27th, 2015

Where I live, in America, it’s taken for granted that responsible owners spay or neuter their dogs. The population of homeless animals is still large enough that risking an unwanted litter is, to many owners, unthinkable. And spay/neuter is just what people do. But two papers were published, in 2013 and 2014, suggesting that these widely accepted surgical procedures may lead to increased long-term risk of certain kinds of cancers. These studies ignited a debate which had been smouldering for years: are there unwanted health consequences associated with altering a dog’s levels of estrogen or testosterone?

Image Credit: Rob Kleine

The 2013 paper looked at Golden Retrievers. The authors reviewed data from veterinary hospitals, comparing Goldens who were diagnosed with various diseases, those who were not, and the spay/neuter status of each group; they found a correlation between spaying or neutering and cancers such as osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell cancer. The 2014 paper used a voluntary Internet-based survey to perform a similar investigation in the Vizsla breed. They also found correlations between spay/neuter status and mast cell cancer, hemangiosarcoma, and lymphoma.

These are scary results, but I caution that studying the causes of multi-factorial diseases like cancer is incredibly challenging. Take the Golden Retriever study, a retrospective study using data from a veterinary referral hospital. This study was limited to dogs whose owners chose to bring them to a relatively expensive referral hospital. This is the kind of place where you take your pet when he has cancer and you are willing to spend a fair amount of money to help him. As a result, this hospital’s records probably provide a great source of data on companion animals living with concerned owners, particularly owners who have provided excellent medical care for much or all of the animal’s life. However, this hospital’s records are less likely to provide data on animals whose owners have provided sub-optimal care. This kind of bias in sample selection can have a significant effect on the findings drawn from the data.

The Vizsla study used an Internet-based survey instead of hospital records. Like the Golden Retriever study, this study could have found itself with a biased sample of very committed dog owners, in this case owners who engaged in dog-focused communities online and who had enough concern about the health of the breed to fill out a survey. This study additionally suffered from a lack of verified data; owners were asked to give medical details about their dogs and may have misremembered or misinterpreted a past diagnosis.

Don’t get me wrong – these were both important studies, and they did their best with the available resources. I applaud both sets of authors for putting this information out there. But the studies both have their limitations, which makes their findings difficult to trust or generalize to other populations of dogs.

Meanwhile, another 2013 study presented some other interesting results. This study drew data from multiple referral hospitals to determine the causes of death in spayed or neutered versus intact dogs – and they found that spayed and neutered dogs, on average, lived longer than intact dogs. Intact dogs were more likely to die of infectious disease or trauma, while spayed or neutered dogs were more likely to die of immune-mediated diseases or (again) cancer. In other words, while spayed or neutered dogs did get cancer, it didn’t seem to shorten their lifespans.

This study shed a new light on the cancer question. It suggested that perhaps spayed or neutered animals might be more likely to get cancer simply because they were living long enough to get it. Intact animals were more likely to die younger, perhaps simply not aging into the time of life when the risk of cancer rises.

So where does that leave us? Is there a causal link between spaying/neutering and cancer? I think the question is still wide open. What we really need is a study that follows animals forward throughout their lifetimes instead of using retrospective records or surveys to get the data – and, thanks to Morris Animal Foundation’s groundbreaking Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, we are getting just that. This study is enrolling Goldens as puppies and following their health over the course of their lives. It will be years before the study gives us answers, but it provides hope for more solid data. (Of course, it still can’t address the issue of bias, in that owners who enroll their puppies in this study could be highly responsible dog owners who provide excellent medical care!)

We can, however, do something about cancer in dogs without waiting for the results of that study. It is no coincidence that two of the studies discussed here investigated Golden Retrievers. Sixty percent of Golden Retrievers will die of cancer. That is indisputably a problem with the genetics of the breed, and other breeds suffer from similar problems. We should be attacking cancer on all fronts, and this is a front we don’t have to study first. Golden Retriever breeders are between a rock and a hard place, trying to breed for health in a gene pool which doesn’t have enough genetic diversity to support it. The solution is to bring in new blood from gene pools with much lower risk of cancer, breeding dogs who don’t look like purebred Goldens for a few generations to revitalize the breed as a whole. Genetics contribute far more to risk of cancer than whether an animal is spayed or neutered. We clearly have a strong desire as a society to reduce the incidence of cancer in Golden Retrievers and other breeds. While we’re studying risk from spaying and neutering, let’s address the genetics question that we know we can fix.

(The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.)

Article reposted from:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/dog-spies/2015/02/25/do-spayed-and-neutered-dogs-get-cancer-more-often/
By
Jessica P. Hekman

References
Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, et al. Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers. PLoS ONE 2013.http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055937
Zink MC, Farhoody P, Elser SE, et al. Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2014;244:309–319.http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.244.3.309 [Paywalled]
Hoffman JM, Creevy KE, Promislow DEL. Reproductive Capability Is Associated with Lifespan and Cause of Death in Companion Dogs. PLoS ONE 2013.http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061082

Making the final decision for a pet

February 25th, 2015

Comedian Louie C.K. once said, getting a pet is a “countdown to sorrow.” He was referring to the inevitable loss we experience when our pets, who have shorter lifespans, die long before we do. So we wonder why we bring pets into our lives at all.

We do it because pets add to our happiness and joy. Their playful nature and unconditional love rank tops in improving our health and lifting our spirits. And let’s face it; it’s much easier to let the worries of the world fall away when there is a wagging tail or gentle purr nudging you for affection each day.

All the joys also mean all the responsibilities, including making “the decision” about when to end your pet’s life. People often ask me, “How will I know when it’s time?” I have made that decision nearly a dozen times in my adult life and the process of “when” to do it never gets any easier.

Photo: Marvin Pfeiffer/ Express-News

(Kim Buck, DVM (right) euthanizes a cat with the help of pet nurse David Roberts.)

While I have become better at recognizing the signs of a pet in the end stages of life, most pets are great at hiding illness until it’s too late. So sometimes you may be looking for modern medicine to extend your pet’s life, and sometimes you may find your pet has no other options.

Recently, my 20-year-old cat, Miss Kitty, had to be euthanized. She seemed fine the day before, but didn’t want to move from her spot the next morning. Blood work indicated she was bleeding internally, likely from a gastric mass, likely cancer.

There are treatments for pet cancer, but not much hope for a 20-year-old cat with a severe heart murmur who was bleeding internally and could have a stroke or heart attack at any moment. Under the circumstances, the decision was easy to make, but not necessarily easy to handle.

A few weeks ago, a friend with a 9-year-old golden retriever confessed she had never experienced pet loss before. Lucky was her first pet and she was a little scared. I explained aging was not an illness and that her dog, although a little more laid-back, was still quite healthy.

Veterinarians, however, recommend two visits a year for senior pets so they can catch and treat illnesses early, which can extend their lives. She plans to do that for her dog. And I will be her support when the day finally comes when she has to let Lucky go.

Sadly, my 12-year-old dog, Maggie, was diagnosed with cancer, too. That’s what happens when you have senior pets in your home. Modern medicine gives us the chance to extend our pets’ lives a little, but in the end, all pet owners face the same painful decision of when to let them go.

Article reposted from:
http://www.expressnews.com/lifestyle/article/Making-the-final-decision-for-a-pet-6092367.php
By Cathy M. Rosenthal

Phase II Study of Drug In Canine Lymphoma

February 24th, 2015

Oasmia Pharmaceutical AB announced today that the company has initiated a clinical Phase II study of Doxophos Vet for the treatment of canine lymphoma.

This study will be conducted at two clinics in the United States and Sweden, respectively. It includes five dose cycles of Doxophos Vet, which contains the active ingredient in doxorubicin, a commonly used chemotherapy drug in humans.

The primary endpoint is the response rate in the treated dogs after five cycles.

CEO of Oasmia said study is an important step for veterinarians

”The continued development of this unique pharmaceutical is an important step for us, and for all dog owners,” said Julian Aleksov, CEO of Oasmia. “It is also an important step for veterinarians, since Doxophos Vet will be a treatment for dogs evaluated on dogs.”

”With Doxophos Vet, we can have a pharmaceutical which is specialized for dogs with this very common type of cancer,” said Aleksov.

Currently there is no specialized veterinary treatment for canine lymphoma.

News reposted from:
http://www.lymphomainfo.net/news/animals/oasmia-initiating-phase-ii-study-of-drug-in-canine-lymphoma
By Ross Bonander
Source: Globe News Wire
Photo by Luke Ma

Love to the Max: Texas A&M veterinarians help a family through the pain of canine cancer

February 23rd, 2015

Upon entering the Bhatia home in Houston, it’s apparent that the family dog, Maxamillion, is as much a thread in the fabric of the household as his human counterparts.

With an energetic tail and a doggy smile, Max is the first to greet any guest. In nearly every framed photo in the home, he poses for the camera. And, as his mom Gina Bhatia will tell you, it is required that Max go on almost all family vacations within driving distance. For the past eight years, Max has been part of the family, beginning on the day Gina Bhatia and her husband, Devinder, bid on the black Labrador puppy at a school charity auction.

“My husband kept on bidding until he was ours. I was dressed in a ball gown, and they handed over this precious pooch,” she laughed. “We had a new baby, a toddler, a freshman in high school, and our house was under renovations. I looked at my husband like, ‘What did we just do?’”

The Bhatias didn’t question their decision long. Max took hold of their hearts almost instantly.

When Max was five years old, his health took a sudden turn. During a family vacation, one that Max didn’t go on, Bhatia received a call from the boarder. “They said that Max was not himself at all, that he had started limping and was acting lethargic,” Bhatia explained. So she ended the trip early and headed home in order to take Max to his local veterinarian, Dr. Alice Anne Dodge, in Houston. While there, she found out that Max was suffering from an autoimmune disease and polyarthritis. After weeks of tests and different medications, he was not getting any better. At that point, his veterinarian recommended that he be taken to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at Texas A&M University.

“He had tons of blood tests, scans, X-rays—you name it, they did it,” said Bhatia. “He wasn’t walking, and his platelet levels dropped dangerously low.”

The Texas A&M veterinarians figured out the plan of attack, giving Max a round of chemotherapy and a litany of other medications. Over the next six months, many visits to Texas A&M, and seven different medicines, Max’s condition improved tremendously. The Bhatias were overjoyed.

A dreaded diagnosis:

For years, Max showed no sign of his previous illness. Although his energy never returned to its original puppy-like volume, Max was back to being Max.

Then, last April, Bhatia noticed Max limping. She returned to Dr. Dodge, where she left him to undergo a series of tests. For the entire day, Bhatia waited by the phone, nervous about the news she would receive. When she finally got the call at the end of the day to come pick up Max, she knew the news wasn’t good. “When I went in, I was sitting in the exam room with Max, and the doctor came in and said, ‘I hope I’m wrong, but I think he has osteosarcoma.’”

With the overwhelming news of cancer, Bhatia left Dodge’s office heartbroken, afraid her days with her beloved pet were numbered.

After consulting with her husband, a heart surgeon, Bhatia knew that the best course of action would once again involve Texas A&M. She drove Max back to College Station two days later, where Dr. Claudia Barton and the rest of the oncology team did more testing and a biopsy to confirm an aggressive form of cancer called osteosarcoma. Dr. Rita Ho, Dr. Megan Sutton, Dr. Kelly Theiman Mankin, and Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles, together with Barton, gave her several treatment options. One option was to amputate Max’s front left leg and administer six rounds of chemotherapy, and another treatment option would allow him to keep his leg and undergo radiation. The former option meant drastic changes for Max’s future but a longer life, while the latter option was less invasive but wouldn’t completely eliminate his pain.

“It took me a good week to figure out what to do,” Bhatia said. “I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. In my mind, the thought of amputation was such an aggressive approach. The thing that kept me going was that they do this surgery a lot, that it’s fairly common with big dogs. Plus, the veterinarians assured me that Max has such a great spirit, they knew that he would do fantastic. Once I discussed it again with my husband and children, we knew he was going to be a survivor.”

With encouragement from the veterinarians at Texas A&M, Bhatia made peace with her decision to move forward with the amputation. They were careful to explain every scenario to Bhatia—“the good, the bad, and the ugly.” She felt that all of the veterinarians and students formed a bond with Max that assured her he was in good hands.

“Before I got him home, on the night of his surgery, they called me, and I was just blown away. They told me he was doing great and that he was already walking!”

Within two weeks, Max had completely adapted to his new body. Bhatia’s children, Mia and Drake, were able to play with their dog in the backyard, just like old times.

“Max is just the best gift from God. He gives us so much,” Bhatia said. “If you have a sick pet and are considering the veterinarian school at Texas A&M, don’t think twice about it. Get in your car and go right now. They are the best, and I’m forever grateful.”

Editor’s note: As this issue was going to print, Max lost his battle with cancer. However, the Bhatia family is still very grateful for the extra time they were able to spend with their beloved dog.

Story reposted from:
http://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/press-releases/love-to-the-max-texas-am-veterinarians-help-a-family-through-the-pain-of-canine-cancer
By Megan Palsa

Dog's successful surgery sets stage for treating humans

February 20th, 2015

Almost five years ago, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever was operated on using a technique eventually patented by Virginia Tech biomedical engineering faculty member Rafael Davalos. The beloved family pet suffer from a cancerous mass in the brain, and all other forms of medical treatment had been exhausted. The operation eradicated the malignant tumor, and follow up examinations proved the procedure’s success.

The team’s findings were reported in the Feb. 14, 2011, issue of the Journal of Technology Cancer Research and Treatment, and, since the surgery, the investigators have continued experiments and mathematical modeling techniques that are leading toward effective treatments for humans with glioblastoma, the most common and deadly malignant brain tumor.

Today, the National Cancer Institute awarded one of Davalos’ colleagues, Scott Verbridge, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, a $386,149 research grant to take a related medical procedure a step closer to using on humans. Verbridge will lead a team that includes Davalos and focus on targeting and destroying the most therapy-resistant infiltrative cells in malignant glioma.

Glioblastoma is the “most common and deadly malignant primary brain tumor, and it is almost universally fatal, with a five-year survival rate of less than 5 percent,” Verbridge said. “This statistic has not improved significantly in decades, and there is still no treatment option to preferentially target the glioma stem cells or diffuse infiltrative cells that lead to tumor recurrence after surgery, chemo, or radiotherapy.”

Davalos’ technique used on the canine patient is called irreversible electroporation. The investigators propose in the current project that these pulses can be tuned “to target the unique physical properties of malignant cells,” Verbridge said.

By contrast, chemotherapy and radiation used to reduce or eliminate cancerous cells are not discriminatory and also affect healthy cells.

Clinical trials using the irreversible electroporation procedure have occurred in the treatment of liver, kidney, pancreatic, and lung cancer.

“The procedure is essentially done with two minimally invasive electrodes placed into the targeted region, delivering approximately 80 pulses to the site in about one minute. The pulses are high voltage but low energy, so no significant heating occurs as a result of the procedure,” Davalos said.

Pulse duration is significant in this process. Earlier studies have demonstrated that length of the pulse accounts for the dead cell lesion size, and the current work will explore the impact of varying these parameters on the response of different cell types within gliomas.

In addition to researching the response of cell lines, experiments also will include patient-derived cells harvested by colleagues at the Wake Forest University and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Centers. The researchers plan to build three-dimensional in vitro tumors using these patient-derived cells. They then will characterize the response of the most highly aggressive tumor cell populations, in physiologically relevant tissue models, to these electric field therapies. Using live staining techniques and confocal microscopy, the researchers will be able to measure real-time responses of the cells to the irreversible electroporation.

“We believe our studies will provide a significant advancement in our understanding of glioma biology and point to new treatment possibilities,” said Verbridge, who conducted postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Cornell University Physical Sciences in Oncology Center. Verbridge also is a principal investigator on an additional NIH-funded project investigating glioma transcriptional dynamics, in collaboration with Chang Lu of Virginia Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

Article reposted from:
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-dog-successful-surgery-stage-humans.html
By Lynn A Nystrom
Provided by Virginia Tech

2nd Annual Gulliver's Run Trounces Canine Cancer

February 19th, 2015

A partnership that began 2 years ago in helping each other launch Gulliver’s Run and RunAgainstCanineCancer.org continues to grow as we fight canine cancer together!

Year Two of “Gulliver’s Run” was another “pawmark” of success! Our human field doubled as did our canine field and people continue to support and encourage us with many kind words. Dogs just keep on having a great day out with their human companions and helped us raise $7600 for the National Canine Cancer Foundation!

Race day 2014 was bright, sunny, and extremely windy, destroying one of our registration booths!  But our passionate participants came out with their dogs just the same. As a result of the large increase in runners they even put up with a shortage of restrooms, dogs didn’t have this problem.

This has already been corrected for our November 1, 2015 race as we expect even greater numbers.

Thanks to our great volunteers we were able to get around and talk to our runners and supporters about “Gulliver’s Run” and fighting canine cancer, while petting my share of dogs along the way.

Helping dogs and their families carry on that fight is the driving force behind our efforts to put on a special and enduring event. We met a number of people who took a moment to tell us their stories about a beloved canine friend and how the specter of canine cancer had marked their hearts. As I looked at each of those people through my own tear-clouded eyes (maybe it was the wind) I became more determined to continue our mutual battle through “Gulliver’s Run” for many years to come!

It is, at times, an exhausting and nerve-wracking process to put together a running event. We strive to make “Gulliver’s Run” a quality event for all who choose to join us. It is hard work, but the reward of knowing that our efforts and the efforts of all who come out for “Gulliver’s Run” do count for something in the fight against canine cancer makes it all worthwhile.

I believe that people do want a way to fight back against something that has changed them in the manner that the experience of facing canine cancer with a dear canine friend has done. We believe that our vision of founding and carrying out the annual event of “Gulliver’s Run” will enable others to do so.

Gulliver lives on through the trail run that now bears his name. We are humbled and thankful for the association that it enables us to have with so many others who know what it is to share their hearts and homes with a special canine friend. May each year bring more of us together! Thank you all so much for believing in us!

See you on the trails November 1, 2015 for Gulliver’s Run 3!

Together—We are the cure!
John & Lisa

Photo courtesy: NaterPix