Exciting News on the Horizon for Cancer Treatment for PetsPublished April 2, 2009
The search for a cure for cancer is a priority for many scientists today. So I was thrilled to read about a new treatment that is being studied at this time which holds promise for bright news on the horizon for the treatment of cancer for pets and people. According to WebMD News, Cleveland Clinic researchers have been able to treat cancer successfully, without causing the toxic side effects and discomfort associated with treatment. Not only does their research hold great potential in the ability to treat cancer in our pets, but may also hold promise in the treatment of the disease in humans. This is indeed great news! At the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City, Dr. Joseph A. Bauer of the Center for Hematology and Oncology Molecular Therapeutics at the Cleveland Clinic outlined their extraordinary achievement. His team's success story started while treating a 10 year-old male Bichon Frise named Oscar, who is considered to be a "miracle dog" that had an extremely lethal and aggressive form of cancer called anal sac adenocarcinoma. Traditional therapies of chemotherapy and radiation did not work, and left Oscar unable to walk. Veterinarians had given him 3 months to live. Oscar But after Dr. Bauer and his colleagues started treating Oscar, by administering an innovative cancer killing drug, nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl), Oscar showed positive results within two weeks and was able to walk again. The drug acts like a biological "Trojan horse". It is a damage-causing chemical which hides in something that appears harmless. Made of nitric oxide, a cancer killing material, it attaches to Vitamin B-12. Receptors on the cell's surface attract the vitamin to help it enter the cell. Since Cancer cells grow very quickly with the extra B 12 receptors, NO-Cbl is attracted to the receptors and when in cancer cells releases the nitric oxide which then kills the cancer cells from within. According to a news release from the American Chemical Society, it has taken more than 60 years for scientists to develop a successful B-12 -based "Trojan horse" to treat cancer. What is just as exciting is that Dr. Bauer's team has reported promising treatment with no negative side-effects for two other dogs. MRI imaging and ultrasound has demonstrated tumor shrinkage in all three dogs in their study. NO-Cbl shrank a spinal tumor in Buddy, a six year-old Golden retriever in nine months of treatment, who is now walking two miles, and has helped a 13 year-old Giant Schnauzer with an inoperable thyroid cancer. Dr. Bauer's team is now working on a fourth dog, Haley, another Golden retriever with a spinal tumor. After treating 10 dogs successfully with this promising drug, NO-Cbl, the team will seek FDA approval to test the drug in humans as quickly as possible. Since Bauer states that people and canines are similar genetically, it may help the drug's "chance of getting through the FDA's strict drug approval chain. It is reported that annually in the U.S. an estimated 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer. This research, if continued successfully, will offer pets a new lease on life without drastic toxic side effects. Dr. Bauer stated in a news release, "The [National Cancer Institute] gets data on pets that are exposed to the same environmental factors their owners are. They breathe the same polluted air and drink the same polluted water that you and I do every day. If you can find an agent to treat cancer that occurs in a dog with success, there is a higher likelihood that you can take that to the human population and have a much higher response rate than with mice." He continues by adding, "We are one of the few research groups that is offering to treat dogs with cancer that otherwise have no hope. With no other options available, most people in this situation opt to euthanize so that their pets don't go through the pain of disease and trauma of surgery." Dr. Bauer is also a dog owner. He feels that this promising research is one of the most rewarding things he has done in his life.