New treatment could be used to help both dogs and humans.
The Brain Tumour Charity has provided a “Quest for Cures” grant worth £1.5 million to support scientists working on a new immunotherapy drug for gliomas.
Led by Dr Jun Ishihara, from Imperial College London, the researchers are focusing on the protein interleukin 12 (IL-12), which is well-known for its anti-tumour effects and has long been studied as a possible cancer treatment.
Dr Ishihara’s team has added a collagen-binding site to IL-12. The researchers are also using novel nanotechnology to allow the treatment to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The UK researchers will work alongside vets at Nihon University in Japan to test the new treatment on dogs, offering it to owners as a possible treatment in cases where there are not usually other treatment options available.
The adapted IL-12 treatment will also be tested in the laboratory on glioblastoma cells, to help the researchers determine which types of cell are likely to respond best.
As gliomas in dogs are similar to those in humans, it is hoped the research could pave the way for human clinical trials in the future.
Professor Daisuke Ito, veterinary neurology specialist at Nihon University, said: “From the veterinary aspect, the study of gliomas in dogs and research into new treatments brings hope to dog owners.
“Current treatment in dogs is very similar to that in humans: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This is very expensive for owners and requires access to specialist veterinary hospitals. Any new treatments that are less expensive and easier to access will be welcomed by dog owners across the globe.
“I consistently saw 2-5 canine glioma cases each month, so this disease is an issue for canine health too, and we need to find a cure. If we can find one that works for both people and dogs, that would be a real breakthrough!”
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