Bone Cancer Vaccine Without Amputation

Meet Denali:10-year-old Italian Spinoni



Clinical Trial: Bone cancer vaccine now being evaluated for dogs with osteosarcoma without amputation

Status: This trial is has been filled. We are no longer enrolling dogs.

About This Trial

  • This new clinical trial uses a novel vaccine for dogs with bone cancer (osteosarcoma). Dr. Mason, an Assistant Professor of Medicine is evaluating the effect of combining a tumor-targeting vaccine with radiation therapy to treat dogs that cannot undergo amputation.

    “In the past we have tested this vaccine to determine whether it can prevent spread of osteosarcoma in dogs that had undergone amputation and chemotherapy (the standard of care for dogs with osteosarcoma). The results were encouraging.

    "Now we are evaluating whether the same vaccine can be used to treat the primary tumor as well as prevent spread of the disease into the lungs – that is, we are now treating dogs that cannot undergo amputation and follow up chemotherapy.”

    The trial is unique – dogs are required to have a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of osteosarcoma, they receive 2 doses of radiation on 2 consecutive days and are then vaccinated once every 3 weeks for a total of 8 vaccines. There is no chemotherapy in this clinical protocol.

    Below is an update on Denali, an almost 10 year old Italian Spinone that was the first dog to undergo this trial protocol – it is written by his dad!

Update on Denali, Italian Spinone

  • The short of it: He's still doing really well.
    The back story: It's been almost five months since Denali fractured his right front humerus. The cause of the fracture was an osteosarcoma tumor. We elected to have the limb stabilized with a metal pin and leave it at that because our previous dog (a Mastiff) died from the complications of bone cancer even after amputation and chemo.

    We were lucky enough to have Denali accepted into an osteosarcoma medical trial under the auspices of Dr Nicola Mason of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia. The trial costs are free.

    Since early January, Denali has received a vaccine every three weeks which is designed to stimulate his immune system to recognize osteosarcoma cancer cells. The side effects are minimal: he runs a fever; mild nausea on occasion. When the fever subsides, he's released and we drive him back to Brooklyn, all in the same day.

    Today's session was number six out of eight.

    Today's x-rays and tests reveal NO metastatic spread of cancer to the lungs nor lymphatic system. He had no pain when the tumor area was vigorously palpated though he has some mild lameness of the limb which is probably more due to the healing of the fracture. He's also on a very small amount of tramadol twice a day. He goes up and down stairs in one fell swoop and even jumps up onto the bed.

    Last week we took him to the beach and shot some footage of him. There is NO visible evidence of the original fracture in today's X-rays and there's even some healthy bone growth over the tumor.

    Since Denali is part of a new trial for dogs with the tumor still in them, and since there are only two dogs at the moment, there is no placebo involved. Both dogs are getting the real stuff.

    Dogs in Dr Mason's previous trial who had amputation and chemo and then came into the Penn study and received the vaccine treatment as well, are doing very well with the first 4 out of 5 dogs alive two years after diagnosis. Interesting that canine osteosarcoma and human osteosarcoma are identical under a microscope.

    Dr Mason says it's still too early to say he's in remission - the tumor may still be active for all anyone knows but its present state certainly could be described as inert - it's has not enlarged in five months.

    All in all, a great day - and all the more reason to smile at our boy.