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Inhaled immunotherapy shows promise for canine lung cancer
The study used interleukin-15 to reinvigorate the immune system.

Research could also have benefits for humans with the disease. 

US researchers have discovered that a protein naturally produced by the body could become a vital new immunotherapy drug in the fight against cancer.

Scientists at UC Davis and other institutions conducted a trial on 21 dogs with metastatic lung disease from osteosarcoma and melanoma. For 14 days, the dogs inhaled a mist containing interleukin-15 (IL-15) - a protein previously recognised for its immunotherapy properties.

The results, published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, show that amplified concentrations of IL-15 can stimulate immune system defenses against some types of cancers in dogs. 

“No one previously had administered IL-15 as an inhaled treatment in dogs to deliver it directly to the site of the cancer,” explained Dr Rober Canter, a surgical oncologist at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We came up with that idea as a means of reducing exposure to the rest of the body, in order to improve the benefit-risk ratio, to improve the immune stimulating effects, and to reduce toxicity.”

“In this study, we used interleukin-15 to reinvigorate the immune system to make it recognize the cancer cells that had evaded the immune system and eliminate them.”

In the first-of-its-kind trial, the dogs began to show significant responses to the protein two weeks after they begain inhaling the mist. 

In two dogs, tumours shrank dramatically – including one that went into complete remission for more than a year. Furthermore, cancer that had been growing rapidly in five other dogs stabilised for several months - with the overall response rate being close to 40 per cent.

While more research is yet to be carried out, the team hopes that its findings will also benefit humans with advanced metastatic cancer.

“As part of our comparative oncology research, we are strong advocates of clinical trials in companion dogs, especially for immunotherapy, as a way to speed bench-to-bedside translation,” added Dr Canter. “The cancers that afflict dogs, including sarcomas, brain tumors, lymphoma and melanoma, are incredibly similar to cancers that humans develop.” 

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on minsmere@rspb.org.uk outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit moredun.org.uk