Morris Animal Foundation funds new study to test efficacy of immunotherapy for canine osteosarcoma


Could fill the need for an alternative treatment approach for patients with this deadly disease

everydoghasastory /

everydoghasastory /

A study funded by Morris Animal Foundation, led by a veterinary research team at the University of Minnesota, will consist of a new therapeutic trial aiming to improve outcomes for dogs with osteosarcoma, a deadly form of bone cancer.

Jessica Lawrence, DVM, DACVIM, DACVR, DECVDI, associate professor of radiation oncology, will spearhead the team. Their mission is to first test a novel immunotherapy in the laboratory, and then in a select group of dogs with osteosarcoma examine efficacy. If it proves effective, the new treatment could serve as an excellent method for treating canine osteosarcoma.

“Immunotherapy, or treatment that boosts the body’s immune response against cancer, is one of the most exciting recent advances in the treatment of tumors,” stated Lawrence, in an organizational release.1

“There are few immunotherapy options specifically for dogs; for this reason, we are incredibly grateful for support from Morris Animal Foundation to develop a new immunotherapy approach for giant-breed dogs with osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is good at masking itself to the body’s immune system, so it can grow and spread. We hope this work will result in a new way to boost the immune system and provide hope for pet owners and oncologists faced with this terrible cancer," she continued.

According to the release,1 osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor diagnosed in dogs, with long bones of large- and giant-breed dogs suffering from it the most. The treatment methods typically instilled currently include limb amputation, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, however some dogs are poor candidates for surgery. That’s where immunotherapy could come into play for these patients.

“New treatments are desperately needed for canine osteosarcoma, and immunotherapy treatments often have the advantage of fewer side effects,” said Kathy Tietje, PhD, MBA, Morris Animal Foundation vice president, scientific operations. “This study could help improve outcomes and quality of life for dogs with osteosarcoma, particularly those that are poor surgical candidates.”1


Morris Animal Foundation funds new study to advance osteosarcoma treatment in dogs. News release. Morris Animal Foundation. January 13, 2023. Accessed January 13, 2023.

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