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Immunotherapy and Vaccines

Immunotherapy and Vaccines for Infectious Diseases

The research groups involved in this effort includes researchers from both the Department of Clinical Sciences and from the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology. 

Current Studies

  • ​​Immunotherapy for prevention of canine and feline viral upper respiratory infections.

    CIRM faculty are investigating novel immune stimulants to induce non-specific protection from highly contagious respiratory diseases of cats and dogs, including kennel cough in dogs and viral upper respiratory syndrome in cats.  The goal is to develop new immunotherapies that can easily administered and induce rapid protection for young animals or animals in shelters or day care settings.

    Program faculty
    :  Drs. Mike Lappin, Steven Dow, William Wheat, Dan Regan

  • I​mmunotherapy for prevention of bovine respiratory disease complex

    CIRM faculty are investigating new types of immune stimulants to induce non-specific protection from bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC), a complex multi-pathogen disease of cattle that are stressed, typically after shipping.  Currently there are not vaccines available to prevent the disease syndrome, given its multifactorial nature.  Therefore, the goal of the program is to use an immunotherapy spray delivered to the nose of cattle shortly before shipping to non-specifically prevent development of BRDC at the farm or feedlot.  Studies are underway in the laboratory and in healthy cattle to assess immune responses. 

    Program faculty
    :  Drs. William Wheat, Steven Dow, and Julia Herman​

Immunotherapy And Vaccines For Cancer

Researchers in the CIRM and Flint Animal Cancer Center are developing new immunotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of cancer and prevention of infectious diseases.  Recent efforts have focused on cancer vaccines for brain cancer and bone cancer, development of checkpoint antibodies for general cancer immunotherapy, and use of “repurposed” drugs for cancer immunotherapy.  

Cancer Immunotherapy

  • Immunotherapy for bone cancer metastases  

    Investigators in the FACC and CIRM are evaluating a new immunotherapy drug combination for treatment of metastatic bone cancer, using two already approved drugs that target immune suppressive monocytes.  By keeping these white blood cells from entering tumors, the anti-tumor immune response can be increased.  Trials in dogs are currently underway evaluating this new cancer approach.  Contact Dr. Kristen Weishaar ( for information on osteosarcoma trials.  

  • Development of new checkpoint antibodies for cancer immunotherapy  

    The laboratory is currently developing new antibody therapies that target a checkpoint molecule called OX40.  Studies in mouse cancer models indicate that treatment with OX40 can significantly control cancer growth, without adverse effects.  In addition, our laboratory has worked with commercial firms to develop the first canine PD-1 antibody, which is currently in clinical trials. ​

Cancer Vaccines 

  • Brain cancer vaccine  

    The laboratory is evaluating a new type of cancer vaccine targeting cancer stem cells, which has shown promising results in mouse cancer models, and in dogs with malignant glioma, a deadly brain cancer with no effective treatment options.
      The vaccine is administered together with 2 drugs that also target the immune suppressive tumor microenvironment.  Clinical trials are currently enrolling new patients in dogs with gliomas.  

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(970) 297-1275