Merial, one of the world's leading animal health care companies, has developed a breakthrough vaccine designed to treat canine melanoma, a common and deadly form of cancer. The company's news release, available on the website of the Animal Medical Center in New York City (www.amcny.org/technology/melanomavaccine.aspx) reads, in part:
"The vaccine was developed through a partnership between Merial, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Animal Medical Center."
"Both humans and dogs develop this cancer in exactly the same way. `The disease occurs spontaneously through an interaction of genes with the environment', explained Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, an oncologist on the Clinical Immunology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. `By conducting trials in humans and in animals that live in the same surroundings as humans, there can be a synergy that we hope will result in improved cancer treatment for all.'"
"Canine melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer that typically appears in a dog's mouth, but also may appear in the nail bed, foot pad or other areas. Dogs with melanomas that have gone beyond initial stages typically have a lifespan of one to five months with conventional therapies. To date, the most common treatments for this form of cancer have been radiation and surgery."
"Clinical studies of the vaccine in dogs ... demonstrated significantly longer life spans even in dogs with advanced stages of melanoma. In fact, many dogs have survived beyond the 389-day median survival of the initial study."
According to Merial, the vaccine will initially be available for use by specialists practicing veterinary oncology, so pet owners will need to ask their veterinarians for appropriate referrals should the need arise.
This partnership between a drug company, an animal medical center, and a human health care facility may once again prove why dogs are, indeed, "man's best friend."
ANTIC, December, 2008
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