An experimental vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine is the first veterinary cancer vaccine of its kind that shows an increase in survival time for dogs with spontaneous non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The work shows for the first time the feasibility and therapeutic efficacy of this alternative cell-based vaccine, which could be employed in the treatment of a number of different cancer types. The research was conducted by Dr. Nicola Mason, assistant professor of medicine at Penn Vet; Dr. Robert H. Vonderheide, associate professor of hematology and oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine; and Dr. Karin U. Sorenmo, associate professor of oncology at Penn Vet. Drs. Erika Krick, Beth Overley and Thomas P. Gregor of Penn Vet and Dr. Christina M. Coughlin of the School of Medicine also contributed to the research. Their work was published on August 31, 2011 in the open access journal PLoS ONE. The team recruited dogs that were brought to Penn’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital with newly diagnosed NHL to receive the experimental vaccine following standard induction chemotherapy and confirmation of clinical remission. The goal of the study was to determine whether the vaccine would prevent or prolong time to a relapse, a common scenario in both humans and dogs with NHL. “We vaccinated dogs, which were in clinical remission following chemotherapy, three times,” Dr. Mason said. “We then tracked them over several years to see if the vaccine would prevent relapse and would prolong overall survival.
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