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Applying immunotherapy to canine cancer

J. Singer, J. Fazekas, W. Wang, M. Weichselbaumer and others

A LARGE proportion of dogs aged over 10 years develop cancer. While there are a range of canine oncology treatments available, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, immunotherapy has so far not been available for use in veterinary medicine. Passive immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies is a widely used cancer treatment in humans. The technique uses antibodies such as cetuximab (for the treatment of certain types of colorectal carcinoma) and trastuzumab (for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer) to inhibit tumour growth. The antibodies target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which has previously been shown to be similar in dogs and people. This study aimed to investigate whether a canine antibody generated from a ‘humanised’ antibody could be used for cancer immunotherapy in dogs.

The antibodies used in human immunotherapy were originally developed from mouse antibodies using a process of ‘humanisation’. The researchers took the humanised cells and used a similar technique to ‘caninise’ them, making them specific to dog EGFR. Flow cytometry was then used to test whether the newly created canine antibodies would bind specifically to EGFR expressed on the surface of …

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