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Cancer vaccine for dogs being trialled - it could be good news for humans too

Dogs are getting a cancer vaccine - humans could be next
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Vaccines have been successful in preventing many diseases and cancer-causing viruses, however, there is no known vaccine which prevents cancerous tumours.

By Dawn Parrish, 26 Jun 2019

Hundreds of healthy dogs are enrolled to test vaccines

Stephen Johnston, director and scientist of the Arizona State University Centre for Innovations in Medicine, has launched a vaccine with a trial to test the effects of a cancer treatment. The hope is that this vaccine could eventually be used to treat humans too. The test is to determine if the use of this vaccine will delay or prevent many cancers that older, healthy dogs may be prone to.

Is it ethical to test this cancer vaccine on dogs?

Ideally, the trial would be carried out using human guinea pigs, but the approval and costs are prohibitive. After a meeting with the director of clinical research, Doug Thamm, who incidentally is also a cancer survivor, the vaccine was developed at the Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center. It is understood that both humans and dogs live in similar environments, spending time both indoors and in the garden, with exposure to similar elements and therefore causing very similar cancer tumours and related medical issues.

The dogs, who have been volunteered by their owners,  are doing the trial while allowed to live in their own homes, unlike many other cruel experiments where animals are held in captivity and then killed after the trial.

Largest interventional medical trial in canines

The research programme created by Johnston and Thamm, is the largest ever undertaken using dogs. The Vaccination Against Cancer Study will see half of the dogs given the vaccine, while the others will receive a placebo. Initially, the dogs will be given four doses of the test vaccine with annual boosters in the following five-year periods. The vaccine will help the dog’s immune system to predict and attack any possible cancer cells.

©Pixabay

A long road ahead to get approval

Even if the trial works and the vaccine is proved to be effective in dogs, there are many more hurdles to overcome before certification is acquired for a human clinical trial. However, without trials like this, and many others that are ongoing, we may never find that elusive cure for deadly cancer.