Thursday, January 24, 2013

Canine brain-tumor treatment trials may help humans

Following a seizure, Petey the pit bull was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He is doing well after undergoing treatment in a pilot trial in 2011.

By Janet Christenbury
Woodruff Health Sciences Center

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc., has awarded the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Veterinary Medicine and Emory University a $119,000 grant over three years to test a newly developed experimental drug to treat dogs with naturally-occurring brain tumors, following partial surgical removal of those tumors.

The goal of the research is to help translate new brain cancer therapies to humans by assessing results in dogs with similar diseases. According to the researchers, the tumors in dogs, known as spontaneous gliomas, are very similar to human malignant brain tumors both by imaging and biology, and both tend to grow back rapidly. The poor prognosis for dogs with gliomas is similar to human patients. The researchers are hoping the novel treatment being tested will slow down tumor growth.

A seven-year-old pit bull named Petey was the first dog enrolled in the initial pilot trial at UGA in 2011. Following discovery of a brain tumor after a seizure, Petey underwent surgery in September 2011 to remove a portion of the tumor. Simon Platt, a professor of veterinary neurology at UGA, performed the surgery and diagnosed Petey with a glioma. After surgery and for three days, an investigational drug was directly infused into the glioma tumor area via catheters, targeting any residual tumor cells. Petey underwent blood testing and complete neurologic testing confirming no toxicity of the therapeutic agent.

Six weeks after surgery, Petey had a follow-up MRI that revealed the therapeutic agent still within the remaining brain tumor. Petey had another MRI five months after surgery showing a marked reduction in tumor size. Petey is now seizure-free and doing well 15 months after surgery.

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