POST UPDATE: We are very sad to report that on January 18, 2010, Batman, the first dog treated with this new approach to dealing with glioma, passed away as a result of complications from seizures. But, he was still cancer free, and had lived 18 quality months past diagnosis due to his fierce determination and the support of his amazing family and veterinary team. CLICK HERE to visit Batman’s Story of Courage on the Georgia’s Legacy website.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Batman’s family and extend our sincere gratitude for allowing him to participate in this experimental treatment which will no doubt save the lives of so many dogs facing this extremely aggressive form of cancer. ~Kerry
Read more about Batman and contribute to the Batman Memorial Fund to support the groundbreaking research being done to treat and cure brain cancer in dogs by CLICKING HERE. _______________________________________________________________________________________________
The National Canine Cancer Foundation shared this news article about a new treatment option for dogs with brain cancer that has been developed at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
Not only is this exciting for those who have watched their dogs suffer from Glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, but also because this research may lead to new treatments for other forms of systemic cancers. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”
Five dogs have received this treatment so far, and have shown promising results. As a result, the University is now formally opening the clinical trials to other dogs with primary brain tumors. According to their website, “treatment will occur through the canine brain tumor clinical trials program. The trial team currently has funding to treat up to 50 dogs but that number could soon exceed 100 if additional grants and charitable donations come through.” They are actively looking for dogs who may qualify.
For more information about the clinical trials, call the UW-Minnesota Small Animal Surgery appointment line at 612-625-8755 or 612-626-8387 or visit their website at www.cvm.umn.edu. Or to donate to support this research effort, contact Sharon Staton, director of advancement, at 612-624-1247, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PDF of Clincal Trial Flyer: http://www.cvm.umn.edu/prod/groups/cvm/@pub/@cvm/documents/asset/cvm_asset_117295.pdf
Batman’s Treatment Now Available to Other Dogs with Brain Tumors
By Fran Howard
Batman, the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, has become a poster dog for the revolutionary therapy. The pointy, black ears of the 10-year-old German shepherd mixed breed dog gave the cancer-surviving superhero his name, but his doctors and a novel therapy gave him back his life. Without treatment, Batman was not expected to survive past Halloween 2008. Given the circumstances, one wonders whether Batman’s doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D., aren’t the true superheroes.
The University’s dynamic duo developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. The treatment, which has given Batman a new lease on life, is now available to other dogs with brain cancer. The three-pronged approach to treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumor, treatment of the surgical site with a form of gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and administration of an anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.
Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Today, the neurological deficits that led to his diagnosis have been almost eliminated.
“We documented an anti-tumor immune response that has correlated quite well with tumor regression,” says Ohlfest. In other words, the treatment appears to have worked, and the implications could be far-reaching for both animals and humans.
“There is the potential for this type of therapy to be used on nearly any type of systemic cancer in dogs, not just brain cancer, because the immune response covers the entire body,” says Pluhar. “I’m hopeful this therapy may in time be used for other types of systemic cancer in dogs.”
Through funding from government agencies and private foundations, Ohlfest and Pluhar have treated four other dogs for similar tumors. The second dog to receive treatment exhibited an impressive tumor regression following six vaccinations, and Ohlfest and Pluhar are optimistic that the other dogs will show similar responses.
Canine brain cancer therapy has been organized within the brain tumor clinical trials program, and the treatment team has funding to treat up to 50 dogs. That number could soon exceed 100 if additional funding is achieved.
The cost of therapy for one dog can range from $10,000 to $20,000. However, dogs with tumors that originate within the brain may be eligible for the brain tumor clinical trials program. The program will cover the vast majority of treatment costs while a dog remains in a trial.