Drug Improves Survival in Dogs With Cancer

Targeted therapy improves survival rates for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

An investigational drug used to treat hemangiosarcoma (HSA) improved survival rates in canines, according to a study in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Canine HSA—–similar to angiosarcoma in humans––is a common, incurable, and aggressive type of sarcoma. Less than 50% of dogs diagnosed with HSA survive 4 to 6 months, with only 10% who are alive 1 year after diagnosis.

A drug called eBAT was designed to specifically target tumors while causing minimal damage to the immune system.

“HSA is a vascular cancer, meaning it forms from blood vessels,” said senior author Daniel Vallera, PhD, who developed the drug. “eBat was selected for this trial because it can simultaneously target the tumor and its vascular system.”

The goal of the study was to determine the post optimal dose of eBAT that causes minimal adverse events.

“In this trial we aimed for a sweet spot by identifying a dose of eBAT that was effective to treat the cancer, but caused no appreciable harm to the patient,” said lead author Antonella Borgatti, DVM, MS. “Essentially we’re treating the cancer in a safer and more effective way, improving quality of life and providing a better chance at survival.”

During the study, eBAT was tested on 23 dogs of various breeds and sizes, with HSA of the spleen. The investigators administered 3 treatments of eBAT to the dogs, after surgery to remove the tumor and before conventional chemotherapy.

The results of the study showed that eBAT improved the 6-month survival rate to approximately 70%. Additionally, 5 of 23 dogs who received eBAT treatment lived more than 450 days.

“This is likely the most significant advance in the treatment of canine HSA in the last 3 decades,” said co-author Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD.

The positive results seen in the canine patients, the similarities between HSA and angiosarcoma, and that many other tumor types that can be targeted by eBAT, suggests the potential for the drug to be used in human clinical trials of cancer patients.

“This drug was invented here at the University of Minnesota, developed here, manufactured here, tested here, and showed positive results here,” Modiano said. “We would also like this drug to achieve positive outcomes for humans here.

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