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Results of dog cancer treatment trial raise hopes for human use

Media release

The encouraging interim results of a trial of a new cancer immunotherapy treatment in dogs with soft tissue sarcomas have raised hopes for a more effective treatment of this aggressive cancer, which is also common in humans.

The veterinary treatment clinical trial by Curtin University and West Australian cancer immunology company Selvax Pty Ltd, performed in cooperation with Perth Veterinary Specialists, has resulted in significant cure rates in the first group of ten dogs tested at the lowest of three dose levels.

Associate Professor Delia Nelson from Curtin’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences said among the trial’s encouraging results, 30% of dogs treated in the first group had shown complete remission from their cancers and none of the dogs treated showed any toxic side effects from the Selvax therapy.

“Dogs develop similar sarcomas to humans and current treatment options have been limited, resulting in euthanising of a significant number of pets in the case of more advanced cancers,” Professor Nelson said.

“Sarcomas are also common and difficult to treat tumours in humans, with these aggressive cancers accounting for 20% of all cancers in children and 15% of cancers in adolescents and young adults.

“They can be fatal and for many sarcomas, outcomes haven’t improved significantly in over 40 years so to develop a more effective treatment of the disease would be a significant medical achievement.

“The interim results of this trial strongly suggest that with continued development this treatment could have potential for treatment of sarcomas in humans.”

Selvax Director Tony Fitzgerald said the company’s cancer immunotherapy treatment was developed by Associate Professor Delia Nelson and her team at Curtin and had been tested in repeated small animal trials against eight different solid tumours.

“It has demonstrated sustained cure rates ranging from 30% to more than 90% in the case of colorectal cancer without adverse side effects,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Selvax also achieved a cure rate of 80% in its small animal trials for osteosarcomas, with long term protection against recurrence.

“Our goal is to complete the development of an effective patient-friendly cancer immunology treatment for solid tumours in both dogs and humans and these new interim trial results would suggest we are well on our way.”

More information about Curtin’s collaboration with Selvax can be found here.