A clinical trial for four-legged friends using our new cancer treatment

John Mundy and Keren Dittmer and Thomas Odom are examining Obi the cat on the examination table

Professor John Munday (centre) is looking for cats and dogs for a study which involves giving a combination of oral medications that aim at slowing cancer progression. Holding Obi the cat is senior clinician Thomas Odom and project co-leader Keren Dittmer (left).

We’re partnering with a research team led by Professor John Munday at the School of Veterinary Science at Massey University, to trial our new cancer treatment for cats and dogs. If you know of cats with mouth or skin cancer, or dogs with mouth or bone cancer, please get in touch with Professor Munday. They could be eligible for the free trial.

Cancer is a common cause of death in dogs and cats. While there has been progress in treating cancer in animals, options can be limited for certain cancer types. Some cancer treatments are also expensive or dangerous to administer.

Massey’s researchers will test our treatment without exposing pets to the harsh side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

If successful, the approach could be a breakthrough in treating cancer in pets as it’s comparatively cheap, safe, and easy to administer. This clinical trial may also provide evidence to support further trials for humans.

Read the news article about this trial on Stuff 

Our treatment uses a combination of oral medications that target cancer stem cells, the proposed origin of cancer, and are thought to control the growth and spread of cancers.

‘Our initial study has two aims,’ says Professor Munday. ‘We want to prove whether the treatment is safe, and it slows down or halts the cancer’s progression.

‘The medications we’re trialling are used to treat other diseases in dogs and cats, and are safe when used on their own. Previously, these medications have not been used together in treatment.’

How our treatment works

We recently completed a phase I clinical trial to treat patients with glioblastoma, a severe brain cancer. Our treatment used off-patent, low-cost, oral medications. This trial showed that the treatment and is safe and well tolerated, and may improve survival.

Read the results for our phase I glioblastoma clinical trial

The clinical trial at Massey University will use a similar combination of medications to treat cats with mouth or skin squamous cell carcinoma (mouth or skin cancer), and dogs with mouth melanoma or bone osteosarcoma (mouth or bone cancer).

Do you know of a cat or dog that could join the clinical trial?

Professor Munday’s team can only treat pets that conventional therapies cannot help. The study will monitor the animals through examinations and blood tests.

What owners will need to do

Owners will need to take their pet to Palmerston North six times during the first eight weeks of therapy. Their pet will need to be given the medication by mouth at home, once a day.

Joining the clinical trial is free because the consultation, testing, and treatments are funded by Massey University and Healthy Pets New Zealand.

Read about Healthy Pets New Zealand

Please get in touch

For more information or to take part in the study, contact Professor John Munday at j.munday@massey.ac.nz