Cancer Drug Improves Survival in Dogs, Shows Potential for Human Use


An experimental drug is improving survival rates in a common and aggressive canine cancer, and may also have implications for cancer treatments in human patients.

An experimental drug is improving survival rates in a common and aggressive canine cancer, and may also have implications for cancer treatments in human patients, according to a study findings from University of Minnesota researchers. The results were reported in a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.1

The treatment, called eBat, positively impacted survival rates for dogs diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA), an incurable sarcoma likened to angiosarcoma, a cancer that affects humans. HSA is especially deadly because it often spreads before a diagnosis is made, and has a low survival expectancy. Less than 50% of dogs with HSA survive 4-6 months and about 10% survive after 1 year.

The clinical trial tested 23 dogs of varying breeds diagnosed with HSA of the spleen. Each of the dogs received 3 treatments of eBat following surgery to remove the tumor and before conventional chemotherapy. The results showed that 6-month survival rates improved approximately 70%, and 5 out of the 23 dogs that received the drug lived for more than 450 days.

“eBat was created to specifically target tumors while causing minimal damage to the immune system,” Daniel Vallera, PhD, professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center, said in a news release.2 “HSA is a vascular cancer, meaning it forms from the blood vessels. eBat was selected for this trial because it can simultaneously target the tumor and its vascular system.”

The researchers are optimistic that the drug’s positive results in trial could potentially translate to improved survival rates in human cancer patients as well. HSA’s similarity to angiosarcoma indicates that the drug may be a strong candidate for testing in human trials, and might provide a better chance for survival.

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1. Borgatti A, Koopmeiners JS, Sarver AL, et al. Safe and effective sarcoma therapy through bispecific targeting of EGFR and UPAR. Mol Cancer Ther. 2017;doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-16-0637.

2. Cancer drug developed by Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota researchers increases survival in dogs; shows potential for use in humans [news release]. UMN’s website. Accessed Feb. 14, 2017.

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