March 17, 2017 – Trials of a new drug developed at the University of Minnesota has shown it improves survival rates for dogs diagnosed with a cancer called hemangiosarcoma (HSA).

“This is likely the most significant advance in the treatment of canine HSA in the last three decades,” said study co-author Professor Jaime Modiano, of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Canine HSA is a common, aggressive, incurable sarcoma. The prognosis for dogs with HSA is not good: less than 50% will survive four to six months and only about 10% will be alive one year after their diagnosis.

The drug, called eBAT, was invented by study senior author Professor Daniel Vallera of the University of Minnesota Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center.

“eBAT was created to specifically target tumors while causing minimal damage to the immune system. HSA is a vascular cancer, meaning it forms from blood vessels. eBAT was selected for this trial because it can simultaneously target the tumor and its vascular system,” said Professor Vallera.

eBAT was tested on 23 dogs of various breeds, both large and small, with HSA of the spleen. Dogs received three treatments of eBAT after surgery to remove the tumor and before conventional chemotherapy. The drug treatment improved the six-month survival rate to approximately 70%. Furthermore, five of the 23 dogs that received eBAT treatment lived more than 450 days.

The positive results for canine patients, the similarities between this cancer and angiosarcoma in humans, and the fact that many other tumor types can be targeted by eBAT, make a strong case for translating this drug into clinical trials for human cancer patients. The researchers want these results to bring hope to those touched by this disease.

“The ultimate goal for all of us is to create a world in which we no longer fear cancer,” Professor Modiano said.

Main photo: Associate Professor Antonella Borgatti of the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary School with Copper.

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