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Skip Navigation LinksCVMBS Home > Veterinary Teaching Hospital > Pets and People: Our Cancer Research Helps Both
Pets and People: Our Cancer Research Helps Both

Harriet is helping to shape the future of cancer medicine , but all she really cares about right now is whether anyone is going to give her a dog treat out of the jar on the counter. Harriet is participating in a clinical trial at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital investigating how a new therapy affects bladder cancer. If the therapy being tested proves beneficial, it may eventually move into human medicine. The trial is being done in partnership with the University of Colorado througha grant awarded to the Cancer Supercluster at Colorado State University.

Clinical Trials Leading the Way to New Medicine

"Clinical trials are the key to advances in cancer treatment, improved quality of life, and life expectancy for cancer patients,” said Dr. Susan Lana, professor of clinical oncology and chief of oncology services at the Robert H. and Mary G. Flint Animal Cancer Center. “Access to cancer clinical trials is also an important measure of delivery of comprehensive cancer care.”

When patients participate in a clinical trial, the treatment cost often is covered by the trial, and clients may receive a grant to help offset costs of additional therapy if the treatment is not successful. Harriet’s owner, Glenda Willis, enrolled Harriet in a clinical trial not only to help her beloved beagle, but also with hopes that what veterinarians learn from Harriet will advance cancer medicine for people and pets.  

The Flint Animal Cancer Center Conducts Three Main Types of Trials

  1. Translationally relevant trials that test new treatments. This research expands knowledge about a particular treatment and the effect on the tumor, with the intent to gain knowledge in order to inform or answer questions that are important to human cancer research. Notes Lana, “We want to know how the drug affects the tumor, does it hit the ‘target’ when and how we think it will, are there any unexpected side effects?"
  2. Trials in dogs for dogs’ sake, testing to improve an existing treatment, or developing treatments for cancers that currently don’t have a good prognosis, or testing new treatments to be used in veterinary patients.
  3. Sampling trials that collect tissue samples from one type of tumor. CSU has one of the largest canine tumor tissue archives in the nation, an important research resource for scientists locally and around the world.

Trial sponsors include industry (human and veterinary pharmaceutical companies primarily); consortia trials in which the FACC participates or is the lead research group; the National Cancer Institute; and private nonprofits including the Morris Animal Foundation.

Consortia Brings Newest Therapeutics to Cancer Patients

The Flint Animal Cancer Center is also one of 20 participants nationally in the Comparative Oncology Program’s Clinical Oncology Trials Consortia. COTC is designed to translate insights gained from cancer treatment in dogs into improvements in human cancer treatment – a comparative approach that’s possible because of disease similarities among species. The program began in 2003 and is managed by the Comparative Oncology Program at the National Cancer Institute.

"From a clinical standpoint, these trials allow us to offer to our clients cutting-edge or new therapies for diseases we see frequently,” said Lana. “It’s an important part of what we offer at the Flint AnimalCancer Center.” 

To learn more about how you can support cancer research at the Flint Animal Cancer Center, please contact the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Office of Advancement, at (970) 491-7446.