New Clinical Trial in Osteosarcoma Looking for Patients

Photo by Karen Winter

Although we list all available clinical trials on this website through the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Clinical Trials Database, we received a request from Mindy Quigley, Clinical Trials Coordinator, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine:

I’m the clinical trials coordinator at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Our Animal Cancer Care and Research Center, located in Roanoke, Virginia, recently opened a cutting-edge study to treat osteosarcoma in dogs. The study provides considerable financial support towards the cost of surgery for enrolled dogs. I’m reaching out to breed groups like yours because large breed dogs like Deerhounds are, sadly, more likely to develop this painful, often-aggressive form of bone cancer. We hope this study, and others like it, will provide new hope for treating cancer in both pets and humans.

The current study is funded by the AKC, and we have funding to continue this work from both the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the NIH.

I would be very grateful if you would be willing to help spread the word about the study to owners, veterinarians, rescue coordinators, and breeders who may be aware of affected dogs. I’ve attached the osteosarcoma study flyer.

The destruction of the tissue is designed to provoke an immune response that we hope will kill the cancer remaining cells and inhibit metastasis. The idea is that the immune cells that usually come along to “clean up” destroyed/dead cells will notice that there’s something funky with these osteosarcoma cells and begin to recognize that the still-living cancer cells are also invaders. So when more of those live cells start to pop up, the immune system will stop them.

There is a bit more detail about this on the study website. In this study, we’re being very guarded about what we promise. Ethically, we don’t want to deny dogs the treatment that is currently established as the best available standard of care—i.e. amputation followed by chemo. So, while we hope that histotripsy will provoke an immune response and we have some good preliminary data showing that it’s likely to do that, a primary purpose of the study is to prove that hypothesis. We don’t know how long the immune response (if there is one) might take, or how widespread it might be in the body. We’re measuring those things in this study and the next one. The type of experiment that would be needed (histotripsy administered alone with no other treatments) wouldn’t be ethical until we’ve done this foundational work to determine if histotripsy is safe and effective in dogs with OSA. It’s often such a painful and aggressive cancer that we need to know more before entirely replacing the proven therapies with something experimental. We hope to get there in the future, or perhaps add histotripsy as a complementary therapy, and this study is a step along that path.