For many years, medical researchers have desired to develop a vaccine that would prevent most types of cancer. Currently, there is a vaccine that does work to prevent a certain type of cancer. The HPV vaccine is used to prevent a virus that is known to cause a cancer. As of yet, scientists have not been able to develop a vaccine that prevents cancer itself. Many researchers aren’t sure that it is possible due to the fact that many cancers have an individual genetic component.
There is currently a study being conducted on a cancer vaccine for dogs at the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. If this vaccine proves successful in canines, humans may benefit.
The Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study is being conducted by scientist Stephen Johnston and veterinarian Doug Thamm. Older dogs without a history of cancer are particpating in the study. Half of the participants will receive the cancer vaccine, and half of the participants will receive a placebo. Both groups will be tested to see if fewer cancers develop in the group that received the vaccination.
Dogs have been chosen for the study because scientists know that tumors in dogs and people share a number of characteristics. Cancer is the top cause of death in older dogs, and the tumors seem to generate spontaneously in dogs just as in humans.
The vaccine being used in the trial was developed by combining 31 neoepitopes found in the eight most prevalent forms of canine cancer. The goal is to train the immune system to identify the neoepitopes and combat them when the immune system notices them becoming active in the body.
Those conducting the study will have the first results in about three years. If the vaccine proves successful, the next step would be human testing. Doctors have noted that important drugs currently used to fight cancer were tested on canines first, so they hope that success in these canine trials will lead to advancement in the battle against cancer in humans.