UW experiments with vaccine against canine cancer

Posted at 11:40 a.m. on May 3, 2019

The Brillion News/UW News Service

MADISON – On Thursday, May 2, the very first dog received the very first vaccine intended to protect her from cancer. And soon after the nine-year-old Gordon setter named Trilly received her shot, so, too, did Norton, a nine-year-old rat terrier mix.

“We’re testing a totally novel way of creating an anti-cancer immune response,” said David Vail, a professor and board-certified oncologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “The holy grail would be to prevent cancer as opposed to waiting for it to start and then treating it.”

If the vaccine works in dogs, Vail says, it may not only provide a new strategy for addressing a critical canine health concern, it might also work in people.

The Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study, now underway, will evaluate a vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer in dogs. Much like an influenza vaccine bolsters the body’s readiness to fight the flu, this preventative vaccine follows the same principle, “to have the immune system primed such that if a cancer cell develops, it will attack,” Vail said.

More than 800 patients are enrolled in the study, making it the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer, and across the history of veterinary medicine. The UW School of Veterinary Medicine is one of three participating institutions.

Read the complete story in the May 9 print edition of The Brillion News.

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