by Lisa Stahr
I just went to a talk given by Dr. Michael Kent, a veterinarian (clinician and researcher) at the University of California at Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and was really excited to hear about his research into canine lymphoma. Specifically, he was looking for a way to use Taxol in dogs with lymphoma–it’s a very effective drug with certain human cancers, but unfortunately, Taxol causes severe allergic reactions when given to dogs. So he got together with another researcher (a veterinarian who works in human medicine at Davis) and they created a way to coat the Taxol in nanoparticles (don’t ask me to explain–I was an English major). The exciting part is they’ve found that not only do the nanoparticles eliminate the chance of allergic reaction when the Taxol is delivered this way, but they also, somehow, improve the efficacy of the drug, killing more cancer cells more quickly than when Taxol is delivered without it. So, the delivery method actually is helping the effectiveness of the chemo.
As a really nice sidelight, Dr. Kent also found that the nanoparticles are actually enabling researchers to better pinpoint where the cancer has spread in the dog than they were ever able to do with traditional methods. Apparently, the particles seek out the cancer cells everywhere in the body and bind to them, which in turn allows the researchers to see, through imaging, all the places in the body where the cancer is.
Preliminary results of Dr. Kent’s study are really encouraging, and he is understandably excited about this work. He’s getting ready to enroll the final three dogs in his study to determine efficacy, dosage, and frequency–but I thought I’d share it because it’s really heartening news for people have dogs with lymphoma.
The one thing I came away from this talk was just how very important funding is to this kind of work. Dr. Kent’s lab is very small–I think he only has 2 assistants. But with more money, this kind of research could happen at a much faster pace, and perhaps make a difference in the lives of many of our pets. It’s something to consider if you’re in a position to help and interested in supporting this kind of work.