UQ PhD candidate and veterinarian Moira Brennan.
UQ PhD candidate and veterinarian Moira Brennan.
17 September 2013

A University of Queensland trial of a new injectable treatment for canine cancer has shown early results in slowing down and ultimately reversing the growth of a tumour.

UQ PhD candidate and veterinarian Moira Brennan said the vaccine was in the early stages of testing and had apparently worked for its first patient, a dog with an inoperable terminal mast cell tumour.

“The treatment, which stimulates an immune response in the tumour, has been tolerated exceedingly well in the first dog trialled – a rottweiler named Jackson,” Ms Brennan said.

“We were pleased that Jackson’s tumour, which had failed to respond to traditional chemotherapy, appears to have disappeared as a result of this experimental treatment.”

The long-term effects of the treatment are unknown, and Ms Brennan is recruiting other dogs with untreatable mast cell tumour or malignant melanoma to join this trial.

"What we are hoping to see in future candidates is a slowing down or arresting of the growth of the tumour we inject, leading to an increase in the length and quality of life.”

Ms Brennan said the trial involved a one-off injection of a small volume of a potent immune stimulant called Complete Freund’s Adjuvant into the tumour.

“Our treatment stimulates an immune response to the tumour, so we also hope to have a good response in animals where the cancer has spread through the body,” she said.

The trial was designed by Ms Brennan’s PhD supervisor, Dr Rachel Allavena, based on a scientific theory developed by Dr Aude Fahrer at Australia’s National University (ANU).

Participation in the trial is free, but owners and dogs must be able to travel to the Veterinary Medical Centre at UQ’s Gatton Campus for initial treatment and follow-up.
For further details contact Moira Brenan or Dr Rachel Allavena on (07) 5460 1096.

Success story for Jackson the rottweiler

Mick and Jenny Lawrence, the owners of seven year old rottweiler Jackson, were devastated when he was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour on his face 12 months ago.

Jackson had 10 treatments of chemotherapy but the tumour started to grow again. Mick and Jenny stumbled across the study when Jackson was being seen at Veterinary Specialist Services in Springwood where Dr Rachel Allavena and Moira Brennan from UQ were meeting with other specialists.

“We were encouraged to hear about the trial and had no other option at that stage. We could not afford any more chemotherapy and with the prognosis looking grim, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Mrs Lawrence.

Jackson started the trial at UQ in May. After one injection the tumour started to disappear, and there have been no signs of reoccurrence or adverse side effects.

“We enjoy every day with him now and he has a quality of life back that he hasn’t had since being diagnosed 12 months ago,” Mrs Lawrence said.

“We hope that more dog owners going through the same sort of experience support the trial so that the potential of this treatment can be fully realised.”