|photograph by cufflink photography|
It all started when Peter Way, an engineer in Fort Collins, found that his black Labrador, Prince, developed melanoma in his mouth after turning ten. He enrolled prince in a clinical trial at Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center. Researchers were testing a subcutaneous delivery method for interleukin12, which is under study for treating cancers in people. The drug initially boosted Prince’s ability to fight off the melanoma giving him eight more months to live but then the cancer came back and the dog had to be put down. They are hoping more pet owners will follow Mr.Way to help out cancer research. Dogs are a main focus of research in the cancer community, after the preliminary mapping of the canine genome in 2005 and advances in veterinary medicine. They now have a vaccine for melanoma and have several more in development. Researchers are now looking at inherited genes that make certain breeds more susceptible to specific cancers. No medicine developed first in dog has yet to cross over to human use. We can use human developed drugs and use them to treat canine cancer.
We found out my Pit-bull, Rex, had cancer a little bit before Christmas last year when we saw he wasn’t eating and his lymph nodes were budging under his neck. We didn’t put him through chemo because we were told it would be really painful for Rex, it might not work, and it would be really expensive without pet insurance. If I knew about clinical trials, as long as I knew Rex wouldn’t be in more pain then he was, I would have tried it. I would have done anything to keep him around a bit longer. It makes me happy that they are working towards curing cancer not only for dogs but for humans also.