New diagnostic test can detect multiple types of cancer in dogs


The EpiSwitch Specific Canine Blood test can detect up to 6 types of cancer in canines in a single array format

Photo: kathrineva20/Adobe Stock

Photo: kathrineva20/Adobe Stock

A new diagnostic test for multiple canine cancers is underway. Oxford BioDynamics (OBD), a biotechnology developer of precision medicine tests based on novel epigenetic biomarkers for pharmaceutical use, recently announced the development of the EpiSwitch Specific Canine Blood (SCB) test, a blood-based test that can diagnose 6 different canine cancers.

The EpiSwitch SCB test is based on OBD’s non-invasive array platform and uses a 3D genomic approach to diagnose multiple types of cancer, in addition to supporting continuing upgrade for additional diagnostic profiles in a modular manner. According to OBD, the test is aimed at helping veterinary professionals diagnose cancer, reduce unnecessary toxicity, make more informed treatment decisions, and optimize management of costs and resources.1

“My first use of the EpiSwitch SCB test helped navigate a very complex case of canine cancer relapse in the absence of options from the current standards of care. This test opens possibilities for a quick and reliable diagnosis in the very cases where time is at premium,” Sara Fritz, DVM, said in a news release.1

According to the release, the EpiSwitch SCB test will be offered to a limited number of veterinarians who will generate real-world utility data to further validate the test. Its commercialization is anticipated to occur through a partnership or licensing agreement with an organization already established in the pet healthcare sector.1

The test can diagnose the following cancers in canines in a single array format that encompasses multiple classes and phenotypes of cancer1,2:

  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
  • T-zone lymphoma (TZL)
  • Hemangiosarcoma (HSA)
  • Histiocytic sarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Malignant melanoma

The EpiSwitch test, which was verified using comprehensive 3D whole-genome profiling from peripheral blood, showed high sensitivity and specificity for lymphomas and sarcomas as a class, with an accuracy level greater than 80%, and high sensitivity and specificity for specific individual indications, achieving accuracy greater than 89%.1,2

“EpiSwitch SCB combines all the advantages of EpiSwitch blood-based biomarkers with a novel proprietary multi-choice EpiSwitch array design. Once again, we were determined to translate to practice the full potential of our EpiSwitch technology, this time to tackle a prevalent veterinary challenge in support of our four-legged friends,” said Alexandre Akoulitchev, chief scientific officer at OBD.1

Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs who are in their senior years.3 Moreover, it is estimated that 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lives,3 with the 5 most common types of cancer in canines being mast cell tumors, melanoma, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma.5 According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, certain dogs breeds are more predisposed to cancer. Some of those breeds include Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain dogs, German Shepherds and Rottweilers. In larger dogs, such as Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, and Scottish Deerhounds, osteosarcoma is more prevalent. Meanwhile, malignant melanoma has a higher likelihood of appearing in black canines, typically in their toes or toenail bed.5

According to OBD, current alternative non-invasive methods in canine cancer detection are not able to differentiate between different types of cancers. Additionally, they only provide a binary ‘cancer’ or ‘no cancer’ result. “The ability to detect the presence of common, life-threatening dog cancers with high accuracy using blood samples provides an improvement over current methods of diagnosis, reducing or eliminating the need for invasive biopsy procedures. I believe that the eventual implementation of these tests also has potential to enhance the precision and therefore improve the management and outcomes of canine cancer patients,” expressed Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.1


  1. Oxford BioDynamics develops a high accuracy, discriminating diagnostic test for multiple canine cancers. News release. Oxford BioDynamics Plc. June 4, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024.
  2. Hunter E, Salter M, Powell R, et al. Whole genome 3D blood biopsy profiling of canine cancers: Development and validation of EpiSwitch Multi-Choice array-based diagnostic test. BioRxiv. Published online May 29, 2024.
  3. Coppock K. Advances in cancer screening and detection. dvm360. May 17, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024.
  4. Evelyn K. Which dog breeds are prone to cancer? Why? The National Canine Cancer Foundation. January 20, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024.,modern%20chemotherapies%20to%20treat%20dogs.
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