Trials help dogs, humans
Tufts vet center runs two cancer studies
Thanks to two new clinical trials at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, dogs with cancer — like 12-year-old Labrador mix Hazel — have a new lease on life.
Kayla Lane of New London, Conn., was devastated when she found out Hazel had bone cancer.
“She had a bump on her ankle near her paw and we thought she sprained it ... she started to limp really bad so we took her to the vet to get an X-ray ... the vet said it was cancer,” Lane told the Herald. “It was hard to believe she had bone cancer out of nowhere.”
Lane began taking Hazel to appointments to seek out the best possible treatment when her veterinarian told her about the trials at Cummings, based in North Grafton, that worked to treat dogs with bone cancer, as well as dogs with mast cell tumors and solid tumors. Hazel participated in both trials.
The studies, which are funded by a grant from National Cancer Institute, look at the immune system and its role in helping to prevent tumor spread.
Hazel had to have her leg amputated prior to treatment, endure chemotherapy and take a series of pills that Lane said were difficult to administer.
Dr. Cheryl London, director of the clinical trials office at Cummings, said that while the trials aim to help dogs, they can help humans too.
“Dogs share many physiological similarities to humans, are exposed to the same environment and get many of the same diseases.” London said.
According to London, there are only about 1,000 new cases of bone cancer diagnosed in children and adolescents each year, while 25,000 new cases are found in dogs each year.
London said treatment options for tumor spread are scarce and the trials will serve to “find the best approach that works in dogs with spread and then translate that back to kids with spread.”
Lane said that was one of the main reasons she wanted Hazel to participate in the trial.
“It will help more than just Hazel, it will help research and it will help humans,” Lane said.
Participation in the trial is free to pet owners, something Lane said was a relief.
Lane made the drive from New London to Boston several times to get treatment for Hazel, something she said made a huge impact in the dog’s life.
“We don’t regret doing it and it extended her life with us,” said Lane, “she’s still here and happy.”
HAPPY HOP: Hazel, a 12-year-old Labrador mix, had a leg amputated before participation in a clinical trial at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.