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Antibody Treatment for Dogs with Cancer

dog with cancer

Image credit: Michael Bernkopf / Vetmeduni Vienna.

Like human being, dogs can also get cancers, which is similar to human cancer. Recently Austrian researchers discovered that the receptor proteins covering the surface of different canine tumors had ninety-one percent similarities with human cancers.

To find more in this respect, the scientists took antibodies from mice and tweaked them in the way that they could bind them to canine cancer cells, which under some situations would decrease the growth of canine tumors, but in other cases could cause the death of the cancer.

According to the study results published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, such antibodies could be used for treatment targeted on dogs with a variety of cancers in the days to come.

As Erika Jensen-Jarolim, the study co-author said, it was much expected that dogs would tolerate these anti-cancer antibodies well. And more things had to be done in further clinical studies so as to greatly improve the diagnosis and the treatment of cancer in dogs.

This kind of immunotherapy has been applied for treatment of human cancers for nearly twenty years. Antibodies binding to cancer cells are firstly collected from mice and then modified to work in humans, or humanized in the scientific expression. They are called as monoclonal antibodies.

However as for dogs, these antibodies were “caninized” (please note the different spelling from the word- “canonized”). It is the first time that cancer immunotherapy is applied to dogs, even though other caner treatments could be used for the animals, for example, chemotherapy.

In the process of binding to cancer cells, the modified antibodies could cause cell death or assist the dog’s body in fighting cancer cells off naturally.

However they could also be tagged with fluorescent proteins that allow the cancer to be visible during a CT scan. If the scientists could better understand the way in which small alteration in the chemical structure of these antibodies could change their binding affinity, they would utilize their research to  find new antibodies for variants of human cancers.

Journal reference: Singer, Josef, et al. “Generation of a canine anti-EGFR (ErbB-1) antibody for passive immunotherapy in dog cancer patients.” Molecular cancer therapeutics(2014): molcanther-0288.