Funded by the 2019 Wine Celebration Fund a Need for Canine Comparative Oncology
Sarcomas are malignant cancers that form in bone and soft tissues (muscle, cartilage, nerves) in many species. Sarcomas are rare and often affect children and teenagers. Outcomes have not changed much in the last 10 years. New treatments are needed to better cure these tumors. Because sarcomas are not common in people, it can be hard to test new treatments. Pet dogs commonly develop sarcomas, and their tumors behave like human tumors. Pet dogs with sarcoma give us a chance to test new treatments that can help both dogs and people. Radiation therapy is commonly used to kill sarcoma cells in dogs and humans but it cannot cure tumors by itself. Radiation therapy can also cause an anti-cancer immune response, where the body’s own immune cells kill tumor cells for a short time. In this study, we are exploring a new way to use the immune system to work with radiation therapy to destroy sarcoma cells. We have invented a designer drug specifically for dogs that “kick-starts” the anti-cancer immune response. We expect that this drug will help us improve outcomes for patients with sarcomas when radiation therapy is used. We will test this expectation in the laboratory and in pet dogs with sarcomas that need treatment. This project will help us learn to use a drug like this in people with sarcomas that need radiation therapy.