Texas A&M, medical school team up against canine lymphoma

Texas A&M, medical school team up against canine lymphoma

Apr 01, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — A study shows that a new immunotherapy for dogs diagnosed with advanced-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) could improve their survival time and quality of life.

The study, published recently in Scientific Reports and undertaken by Texas A&M University's (TAMU) veterinary college and the University of Texas MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital in Houston, utilizes a T-cell therapy developed at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. Using the therapy, veterinarians at Texas A&M saw a nearly four-fold improvement in tumor-free survival compared to dogs that received only chemotherapy, according to TAMU officials. The median tumor-free survival for the Texas-based dogs increased by close to nine months, which is roughly equivalent to seven years in a human life span, the university adds.

Standard chemotherapy can also achieve remission in dogs with NHL, but it rarely cures the condition and the two-year survival rate is less than 20 percent.

"The therapy was well tolerated in all dogs that received the infusions. We saw fewer side effects than with traditional chemotherapy, and the pet owners were pleased with how their dogs tolerated the protocol," says Heather Wilson-Robles, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, an assistant professor at Texas A&M. "The owners were also very pleased to be supporting research that may further enhance cancer therapy in humans and pets."

To accomplish the T-cell therapy, researchers took a sample of blood from each dog entering the study. Then the T cells were separated and expanded in the laboratory over several weeks. As the T cells grew at MD Anderson, the dogs received chemotherapy at Texas A&M. The regimen included a combination of cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin and prednisone. The T cells were then given back intravenously after the chemotherapy to improve the anti-tumor effects. Investigators discovered that they could use the body's own immune cells, such as T cells, to fight cancer. As a result, MD Anderson and Texas A&M collaborators are creating a program focusing on harvesting and expanding T cells on a large scale for broad clinical use.