Clinical trial works to save dogs’ lives and possibly humans with bone cancer

The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is conducting a groundbreaking clinical trial to help dogs suffering from bone cancer. PHL17’s Zachery Lashway talks with some experts in the field and gets to meet a very special dog participating in the clinical trial named Denali.

Denali, a 10-year-old Italian Spinone therapy dog, entered the clinical trial after fracturing a leg while playing with other dogs. When undergoing treatment, doctors discovered Denali suffers from osteosarcoma, a very aggressive bone cancer.

Currently, standard treatment for osteosarcoma is amputation followed by chemotherapy.

However, the clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, led by Dr. Nicola Mason, is working to change that standard method of treatment — by treating dogs with osteosarcoma without amputating limbs. Instead, the trials use immunotherapy to help the dogs.

The goal, according to Dr. Mason, is that the immunotherapy will save dogs, and hopefully humans suffering from osteosarcoma, from undergoing amputation.

The outlook is good: eight months after beginning the treatment, Denali’s cancer has not spread. Denali, and his owner, Robert Ipcar, work in the palliative care and physical rehab units at the Brooklyn VA Hospital.

Penn Vet is still looking for dogs that may have or have been diagnosed with bone cancer who have not had an amputation.


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