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MU Veterinary Oncologists Part
of Osteosarcoma Study

Dr. Brian K. Flesner

The Veterinary Health Center at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine is joining forces with 15 other veterinary programs across North America and the National Cancer Institute to improve the odds for dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common form of bone cancer in dogs. The VHC is part of the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium, and the current clinical trial is sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundation.

“Currently we are stuck at an average survival time of one year in dogs with osteosarcoma that are treated with surgery and chemotherapy,” said Brian K. Flesner, DVM, an assistant professor of veterinary oncology who is serving as the study’s principal investigator at the VHC. “Many different chemotherapy drugs have been used, with no real advancement past one year of survival.”

Osteosarcoma is most often diagnosed in large breed dogs, such as the Rottweiler, Great Dane, golden retriever, Doberman, German shepherd and St. Bernard.

The study will involve a total of 500 dogs and is expected to last between one and three years. Flesner said he anticipates enrolling 20 to 40 dogs at the VHC. He will evaluate the first potential candidate for the trial Monday.

All participants will receive surgical removal of their tumors and standard-of-care chemotherapy at the VHC. Once chemotherapy is completed, dogs may receive an investigational agent, rapamycin, which is an immunosuppressant that has shown anticancer activity. The study is to determine if the rapamycin improves survival rates. To be eligible to participate in the study, dogs must have a confirmed osteosarcoma diagnosis and have had no prior treatment for the disease. Clients will receive $1,000 to offset the cost of surgery, and chemotherapy will be provided at no cost.

“The really neat thing with this current trial is that 16 vet schools across the nation are teaming up to treat animals in a standardized fashion so we can glean the most evidence from this trial,” Flesner said. “It’s a rare event and one we are very excited about.”

For more information about the study, contact Debbie Tate, RVT, VTS, clinical trials coordinator, at 573-882-7821.

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Last Update: February 10, 2016