Wisconsin Vet School to Launch Osteosarcoma Study

The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine study is being funded by a grant from the Puppy Up Foundation.

A Puppy Up Foundation grant will fund a University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine osteosarcoma study. From left: Beth Viney, Puppy Up Madison co-chair; Dr. Neil Christensen; Dr. Kai Shiu, Puppy Up Madison co-chair; and Ginger Morgan, executive director of the Puppy Up Foundation.

Nik Hawkins

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Thanks to a $96,000 grant from the Puppy Up Foundation, the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine plans to launch a study aimed at improving mobility and quality of life for dogs afflicted by osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma is the most common form of canine bone cancer, according to the school, with about 10,000 new cases diagnosed in dogs each year.

Neil Christensen, BVSc, Dipl. ACVR, clinical instructor in the Department of Surgical Sciences and member of the UW Veterinary Care (UWVC) radiation oncology team, will lead the study. Research will explore the potential benefits of stereotactic radiation therapy for osteosarcoma patients.

“Stereotactic radiation is a newer form of treatment made possible by recent technological advances,” Dr. Christensen said. “It allows for larger, more accurate doses of radiation while still sparing healthy tissue, in comparison to traditional palliative radiation, which involves smaller, prolonged doses.”

Specifically, the study will look at how stereotactic radiation performs in terms of pain relief for patients and in stimulating an immune response that helps patients’ bodies fight bone tumors on their own, according to the school.

UWVC has a TomoTherapy unit which will be able to deliver the treatment.

“Our hope is to help a lot of dogs affected by this disease in the future,” Christensen said. “And the data we generate should be applicable to treating osteosarcoma in humans as well.”

The Puppy Up Foundation was established to fund comparative and translational cancer studies that can potentially benefit both pets and people as well as invest in national education and awareness initiatives about the epidemic of cancer in companion animals.

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