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Pilot study assesses feasibility of tissue collections and molecular profiling for personalized medicine studies

08/24/2011

By Kathy Stuebner, B.S., CVT, Research Coordinator, Clinical Investigation Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Michael S. Henson, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology), Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center

The University of Minnesota is a member of the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC), a network of 20 academic comparative oncology centers that collaborate in multi-center trials managed by the Center for Cancer Research, which is part of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. While most COTC trials evaluate novel therapies for cancer, the main goal of this trial is to evaluate the capability of the COTC network of hospitals and laboratories around the country to collect and process samples quickly and accurately enough to be useful in personalized medicine trials in the future.

Oral
A dog with oral melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Scientists with the Animal Cancer Care and Research program are seeking dogs with oral melanoma for a study that will help both dogs and people with cancer.

Personalized medicine involves tailoring cancer treatment and prevention to the specific molecular nature of the individual and their cancer (i.e., target the mutations that drive malignant transformation, resistance to treatment, risk for toxicity, etc.). The hope is that targeted therapies will be more effective with less risk for the patient than traditional treatments.

For personalized medicine to be useful, we need to accurately determine the molecular characteristics (genomic, proteomic, and epigenetic profile) of the patient rapidly enough for treatments to be designed and implemented for patient care, ideally in less than a week. In addition to assessing sample collection, viability, and the clinical turnaround of results, we hope that this study will identify potential therapeutic targets in specific canine malignancies to allow the design of future studies in dogs. Since canine malignancies share many characteristics with those that occur in humans, if personalized medicine is proven efficacious in dogs, the results may advance development of more efficient targeted therapies for people, too.

University
Amber Winter of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Clinical Investigation Center holds Luke, a study dog, as fourth-year veterinary student Raeana Rice examines the springer spaniel. Photo by Sue Kirchoff.

Once dogs are enrolled at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center, participation in the study involves a single collection of samples, specifically blood, saliva, and a biopsy of the tumor. After sample collection, owners can choose whatever treatment option is best for the family. The study pays for sample collection and provides $1,000 that can be used to cover the cost of evaluation and future expenses at the Veterinary Medical Center. At this time, we are specifically seeking golden retrievers with multicentric lymphoma, Scottish terriers with transitional cell carcinoma, and any breed of dog with oral melanoma.

This article is reprinted with permission from the University of Minnesota. It originally appears in the Summer 2011 Issue of Synergy the newsletter of the Animal Cancer Care and Research Program.

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Hospice Care / End of Life Care For Dogs

10/30/2014

In this podcast we are wrapping up our “Old Dogs Rule” educational series with a difficult, but important conversation about end of life care. We are very fortunate to feature Dr. Kathleen Cooney, founder of “Home to Heaven,” an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia services practice. She is also the owner of the first-ever pet euthanasia center in the United States. The center is located on her 35-acre farm in Loveland, Colorado and offers two comfort rooms for pet euthanasia. It is open year-round for families looking for an alternative to standard clinic or in-home euthanasia. Dr. Cooney graduated from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine in the spring of 2004. That same spring, her family had to say goodbye to their 15-year-old yellow lab, McKenzie. McKenzie passed peacefully under the aspen tree in their front yard. From this experience, Dr. Cooney learned just how important it was for pets to be at home for the end of their lives. In 2012, she completed writing the book “Veterinary Euthanasia Techniques: A practical guide.” Dr. Cooney served on the 2013 American Veterinary Medical Association's panel on euthanasia guidelines. She is currently the Vice President and conference coordinator for the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). She travels frequently to speak on her work and on the current advancements in end-of-life care.

This podcast was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, A KeyBank Trust.


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