The young Canadian company NovaVive Inc. is hopeful that a biologic technology proven to stimulate an animal’s immune system may be approved at some point to treat hemangiosarcomas and chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in dogs.
And if one of three planned studies shows promise, mycobacterium cell wall fraction (MCWF) also might be used to improve the quality of life of dying dogs.
NovaVive, established in 2014 by Bioniche Life Sciences founder Graeme McRae, sells four MCWF-based therapeutic biologics. Purchased from the French company Vétoquinol, which acquired original developer Bioniche’s veterinary division, the current lineup includes:
- Equimune, for the treatment of equine respiratory disease complex.
- Amplimune, formerly called Immunoboost, for bovine infectious disease therapy.
- Immunocidin, for the treatment of mixed mammary tumor and mammary adenocarcinomas in dogs and sarcoid tumors in horses.
- Settle, for the treatment of equine endometritis.
All four immunotherapies are sold in the United States. Australian veterinarians have access to Equimune and Settle, Immunocidin is available in Canada, and Equimune is distributed in New Zealand.
NovaVive has engaged two U.S. veterinary oncologists to assist with studies of how MCWF might be used in three other ways. The “ringleaders of the pack,” as McRae called them, are Philip Bergman, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, of Bedford Hills, N.Y., the director of clinical studies for the VCA animal hospital chain, and Craig Clifford, DVM, the director of clinical studies at Hope Veterinary Specialists in Malvern, Pa.
“Hemangiosarcoma, chemotherapy-induced neutropenia and palliation represent areas of unmet need or areas where existing therapies induce difficult side effects in dogs with cancer,” McRae said.
The first study is due to start by the fall, and each is expected to last no more than 18 months.
Early evidence bodes well for the studies, McRae said. Some veterinarians reported positive results when using Immunocidin off-label to treat hemangiosarcomas, neutropenia or palliation, he said.
Hemangiosarcoma is a deadly cancer of the spleen, liver, skin or soft tissue. NovaVive’s proposed product wouldn’t cure the disease but might improve a canine patient’s life expectancy and quality of life.
Likewise, NovaVive thinks MCWF could alleviate the side effects of neutropenia—a low white blood cell count—and improve the quality of life of dogs in palliative care.
NovaVive is based in Belleville, Ontario, and operates a manufacturing plant in Athens, Ga.