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Engineering viruses to attack tumors is not strictly for human use, it is also being used in dogs. In research funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), Dr. Bruce Smith, VMD, PhD of Auburn University uses biotechnology to convert adenovirus, a common human and canine virus, into a treatment for canine osteosarcoma. Dr. Smith’s research reprograms a canine adenovirus to attack tumor cells and was funded by CHF in 2012, nearly two years prior to the recent clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic for human myeloma patients using the measles virus.
Patients in Dr. Smith’s clinical trial are administered an oncolytic adenovirus specifically engineered to replicate (make copies of itself) in canine osteosarcoma cells. "By engineering a common adenovirus virus to replicate in cancer cells, we can turn that cell into a factory that produces its own destruction," said Dr. Smith. The virus breaks down the cancer cells, reducing or eliminating the metastic lesions and hopefully extending the survival of dogs that receive this treatment. According to Dr. Smith, "Viruses are nature's perfect gene delivery machines. Oncolytic viruses harness this ability to deliver death to cancer cells." The implications for human medicine are profound. Canine osteosarcoma is an aggressive canine bone cancer with poor prognosis and is nearly identical to osteosarcoma in humans.
“CHF strives to fund cutting-edge technology that will prevent, treat and cure canine disease. Novel approaches to treating cancers such as the work done by Dr. Smith moves us forward in giant strides rather than incremental steps, and what seems like high risk science ultimately becomes high reward for dogs and their owners,” said Dr. Shila Nordone, CHF Chief Scientific Officer. “Dr. Smith’s research also has strong implications for humans. By utilizing naturally occurring disease in dogs we can move biomedical research forward more quickly and cost effectively for humans as well.”
To learn more about Dr. Smith’s virus-based anti-tumor treatment for canine osteosarcoma and to support his research, visit the CHF website. Watch an interview with Dr. Smith discussing his research and the One Medicine approach in this video from Auburn University.
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.