Learning from man’s best friend

Jaime Modiano. director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research program, with his dog Quetzal.During his career, Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., M.D., director of the University’s Animal Cancer Care and Research Program, has found striking similarities between cancer in dogs and people.

Modiano and U colleague Daniel Vallera, Ph.D., recently made a major breakthrough in treating a canine cancer called hemangiosarcoma, work that could have big implications for human cancers.

Hemangiosarcoma afflicts tens of thousands of dogs each year and is similar to a deadly cancer in people called angiosarcoma. Both cancers are challenging to treat because they are usually detected late in the course of development and tend to spread to the body’s vital organs.

“With support from the Masons and other generous donors, we have been able to expand our canine trial and accelerate progress toward a cure for cancers that affect both people and dogs. This support shows that by working together we can accomplish our goals more quickly and efficiently.” — Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., M.D.

To fight hemangiosarcoma, Modiano and Vallera’s teams created a therapy called eBAT and tested it in canine trials. They found that the survival rate for dogs who received eBAT virtually doubled after six months and quadrupled after one year, marking the most significant improvement in hemangiosarcoma outcomes since the 1980s.

Because there are many parallels between human and canine cancers, eBAT has exciting potential for treating angiosarcoma and other types of tumors in people. The next step for Modiano and Vallera is to gain FDA approval for testing it in human clinical trials.

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