Revolutionary Breakthrough in Scientific World: Vaccine for Dog Cancer Unveiled, Says Scientist

A recent cancer jab for pooches is turning heads in clinical tests, which kicked off back in 2016, sparking hopes that this canine therapy might shed light on human cancer cures.

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Over 300 dogs got the shot so far, and the one-year survival stats for dogs with certain tumors jumped from roughly 35 percent to 60 percent. Plus, lots of the dog’s tumors have shrunk.

The jab’s got a fancy name: Canine EGFR/HER2 Peptide Cancer Immunotherapeutic. It sprung from autoimmune disease research—conditions where the immune system wrongly attacks your own cells. This vaccine’s goal is to refocus the immune system’s attack on cancer cells.

“Tumors, they’re kinda similar to what’s targeted in autoimmune diseases,” notes Mark Mamula, a rheumatologist with Yale University’s School of Medicine.

“Cancer cells, they’re part of you, and your immune system goes after them. The twist is, we’re cheering for the immune system to go after the tumor.”

Mamula’s 2021 study and his team’s work show that the treatment prompts immune cells to whip up antibodies. These antibodies latch onto tumors, messing with their growth.

These antibodies specifically target two proteins: epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). These proteins, when they go haywire, can cause human and dog cancers to grow out of control.

Current drugs aiming at EGFR and HER2 typically rely on just one type of antibody. This new vaccine amps up the game by triggering a polyclonal response – that’s a bunch of different immune cells chipping in, which makes it tougher for the cancer to dodge the treatment.

“In the world of animal cancer care, we don’t have nearly the tools they’ve got in human medicine,” Gerry Post, a veterinary oncologist from Yale, beams. “This vaccine’s a game changer. Being a vet oncologist is just thrilling right now.”

For the moment, this vaccine’s something you’d use after a dog’s been diagnosed, not before. But it’s been a life-changer for dogs like Hunter: two years past an osteosarcoma diagnosis, he’s cancer-free. That’s a big deal since normally only about 30 percent of dogs with this bone cancer make it past a year.

With a quarter of our four-legged friends facing cancer at some point, the stakes are high for this treatment.

And since dog cancer and human cancer share a lot—genetics, how tumors act, and how they react to treatments—the Yale team figures this vaccine will boost our grasp on human cancers too.

It’s not just the Yale crew pushing the envelope in dog cancer research. Other scientists are testing out immunotherapies on dogs with melanoma and lymphoma. But like with humans, predicting which dogs will respond to the treatments is tough.

“Dogs get cancer just like us—out of the blue,” Mamula says. “They grow, spread, and mutate, just as human cancers do.”

“If we can offer some help, some comfort—a life without pain—that’s the ultimate win we could hope for.”

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