NCSU Veterinarians, Duke Doctors Join Forces to Fight Cancer

The veterinarians and doctors will participate in a symposium in search of improved cancer treatments.

An 11-year-old Wheaten Terrier named Buddy receives radiation treatment following cancer surgery at North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital.

The News & Observer

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Cancer is a terrible disease. We’ve all been affected by it either personally or through someone we know (I just lost my aunt to cancer two weeks ago). It seems that it’s more and more prevalent nowadays, not only affecting our human loved ones, but our animals as well. Chances are you’ve treated some of those animals who were (or are) afflicted with cancer. Some have survived; some haven’t. When they do, it’s often deemed a miracle.

One such miracle came in the form of a 13-year-old Labrador Retriever named Eliza almost one and a half years ago. She was placed in a clinical trial at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine after a diagnosis of nose and mouth cancer, The News & Observer reports. Her symptoms started with a swollen snout, before she began bleeding from her mouth. The veterinarian informed Eliza’s owner, Lynne Murchison, that the Lab had about five weeks to live. At most. Unwilling to give up, Murchison searched for — and found — a clinical trial at NCSU’s vet school. It was for oral tumors.

According to The News & Observer, veterinarians “implanted tiny particles in the tumor, then injected her with drugs and small doses of X-rays that converted to UV light… The light activates drugs in the tumor, causing an immune response against the cancer.”

For one month Eliza underwent 9 treatments of Immunolight Therapy. It worked. One year later and there is no sign of cancer.

Now the experts involved in this new treatment are joining forces with doctors from the Duke Cancer Institute to form the Consortium for Canine Comparative Oncology (C3O). Today more than 150 of them are meeting at a symposium in Cary, N.C. to discuss better cancer treatments. According to The News & Observer, “cancer experts and drug developers increasingly believe they can create and speed successful treatments in dogs, with implications for certain types of human cancers. The field of oncology is moving away from toxic chemotherapies and more toward medicines targeted to tumor mutations and treatments that rev up the immune system.”

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Executive Director of the Duke Cancer Institute, Dr. Michael Kastan, told The News & Observer that studying cancers in dogs will be beneficial. “The dogs will benefit, the owners will benefit and when we take the drugs to humans we’ll know a lot more about how to use them.”

What do you think of this partnership? Could both veterinarians and doctors learn from these treatments when both human and canine patients are diagnosed with cancer?

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