AKC Canine Health Foundation Funds Groundbreaking Study to Evaluate Potential Treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy


Sharon M. Albright, DVM, CCRT
Manager of Communications & Veterinary Outreach
AKC Canine Health Foundation
Phone: 919-334-4019
E-mail: sharon.albright@akcchf.org

For Immediate Release

RALEIGH, NC (June 1, 2023) – The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the health of all dogs, announces funding for a groundbreaking study evaluating a potential treatment for canine degenerative myelopathy.

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive neurologic disease in dogs with characteristics similar to some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in humans. There is currently no treatment available to slow disease progression in dogs. With CHF funding, investigators at four veterinary teaching hospitals are collaborating to set-up clinical trials and establish treatment protocols for dogs with DM using riluzole, the first drug approved by the FDA to treat ALS in humans in 1995.

“This grant will allow for a platform trial design to recruit DM cases and get clinical trials underway,” says Dr. Joan Coates, the study’s Principal Investigator and veterinary neurologist at the University of Missouri. “Information about biomarker testing and control groups will be shared among the neurology researchers of the current participating institutions (University of Missouri, The Ohio State University [Dr. Sarah Moore], Tufts University [Dr. Dominik Faissler], North Carolina State University [Dr. Natasha Olby]), facilitating consistent data collection and providing easier access for dog owners wanting to participate in clinical trials.”

The potential for a new treatment to slow clinical progression of DM in dogs is garnering support from many dog owners and other nonprofit organizations interested in the disease. The CHF-funded study is sponsored by Bubba’s Buddies, a nonprofit organization started by dog owners frustrated with the lack of treatment options for their dog. The charity raises funds for DM research and provides support for other families affected by the disease. The Finding a Cure for DM Foundation, Inc. is another nonprofit organization that decided to use its remaining assets to support CHF-funded DM research.

“A treatment for degenerative myelopathy would have a profound impact on the quality of life of affected dogs and their families,” says Dr. J. Charles Garvin, Chair of the CHF Board of Directors. “CHF is proud to partner with our dedicated investigators and passionate donors to make progress toward that goal.”

The DM treatment study is part of CHF’s $13.4 million active research portfolio funding studies into all aspects of canine physical and behavioral health. Full details on the study, including information on participation, can be found at www.akcchf.org/03139.


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About CHF
Since 1995, the AKC Canine Health Foundation has leveraged the power of science to address the health needs of all dogs. With more than $67.5 million in funding to date, the Foundation provides grants for the highest quality canine health research and shares information on the discoveries that help prevent, treat and cure canine diseases. The Foundation meets and exceeds industry standards for fiscal responsibility, as demonstrated by their highest four-star Charity Navigator rating and Candid Platinum Seal of Transparency. Learn more at www.akcchf.org.

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