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Canine cancer vaccine trial gets underway
“The vaccine may not be effective, but this is probably the only approach to this type of vaccine, so we feel we have to try it." Professor Stephen Johnston.
Study is the largest of its kind in the history of veterinary medicine

One of the largest clinical trials conducted to date for canine cancer is currently underway in the United States.

Researchers from the University of California, Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin are participating in the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS trial) to assess a new vaccine strategy for the prevention, rather than the treatment, of cancer in dogs.

Scientists hope that, if the vaccine works, it could provide important justification for exploring a similar approach in humans.

David Vail, a professor and board-certified oncologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, said: “We’re testing a totally novel way of creating an anti-cancer immune response. The holy grail would be to prevent cancer as opposed to waiting for it to start and then treating it.”

The preventative cancer vaccine works similarly to how an influenza vaccine supports the body’s ability to fight flu. I.e., “to have the immune system primed such that if a cancer cell develops, it will attack,” said Vail.  

With over 800 dogs participating in the trial, the study is the largest of its kind conducted to date, and in the history of veterinary medicine.

Professor Stephen Johnston from Arizona State University, who developed the vaccine, said: “The vaccine may not be effective, but this is probably the only approach to this type of vaccine, so we feel we have to try it. The implications of success would be quite large — for dogs and people.”

The vaccine is designed to target some 30 abnormal proteins found on the surface of cancer cells. These proteins, which are the result of incorrectly-coded RNA, are generally only found in patients with cancer.

Scientists hope that by vaccinating healthy patients with these proteins, together with a substance that stimulates an immune response, the vaccine could serve as a universal defender against cancer by “turning on” the immune system.

The vaccine will target several cancers common to dogs, including lymphoma, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mastocytomas.

Participating dogs must be aged between six and 10 years, with no previous history of cancer. The dogs will receive either a series of inoculations or a placebo and will live at home while being checked two-to-three times a year, for five years after enrolment.

Researchers have agreed to cover the costs associated with diagnostics and treatment of any cancers that dogs develop, whether or not they are receiving a vaccine or placebo.

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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BSAVA rolls out CPD resources and benefits in absence of Congress

A package of CPD resources and benefits are set to be rolled out on BSAVA's social media channels over the coming days in a bid to fill the gap left by the cancellation of BSAVA Congress.

The package includes a 10 discount voucher on all printed manuals and access to the BSAVA Library. BSAVA said that it will also be recording more than 100 hours of planned Congress lectures over the following weeks so that vets don't completely miss out on the Congress experience.

The resource, titled Congress on Demand will be ready in early May.