Where: McCormick Place | 2301 South King Drive, Chicago, IL 60616
When: December 1–6
To speak with the researchers or the owners of the dogs involved in the trial, email Rachel Butch: email@example.com.
What do you do when your best friend is diagnosed with a cancer that kills most of its patients within a few months? A few brave dog owners turned to Johns Hopkins, where veterinarians, radiologists and physicists have teamed up to conduct an experimental trial of a therapy they hope will extend the lives of their beloved pets.
Typically, to create a new drug, researchers first develop the chemistry in a lab, test it in animals and then see if it is effective in humans through clinical trials. This unique approach breaks that mold, giving veterinarians and medical doctors the unique opportunity to work hand in hand to simultaneously develop new and improved treatments for human patients and their furry friends.
The treatment the team is working on is called yttrium-90 (Y90) radioembolization — a minimally invasive treatment for a brain cancer found in dogs that is similar to human glioblastoma.
Glioblastoma is a historically intractable brain cancer with a generally poor prognosis. Approximately 14,000 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma each year in the U.S., and the cancer is also prevalent in canines — especially small, short-nosed breeds.
“One obstacle to treating brain cancers like glioblastoma with conventional therapy are the toxic effects radiation has on the normal brain tissue surrounding the tumor. By delivering radiation directly to the tumor through the blood vessels that flow into it, we hope to reduce radiation exposure to the healthy parts of the brain,” says Clifford Weiss, M.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering, Innovation and Design.
The Y90 treatment approach is based on an already successful human liver cancer treatment, which includes injecting a precise amount of radiation into or close to the tumor using small radioactive glass beads.
So far, Weiss and his team have tested the treatment on five pets alongside the veterinarians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Of five treated, four showed initial improvement, with one now presenting no radiological or behavioral signs of glioma six months post-treatment.
Though more studies on safety and efficacy are needed, the researchers foresee being able to use this approach to treat human brain tumors within the next few years.
Alexander Pasciak, M.D., Ph.D., resident in training and radiation physicist at Johns Hopkins, will present preliminary results from this trial at the Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting.
Researchers Involved in This Study
Sasicha Manupipatpong, student in residence
Alexander Pasciak, M.D., Ph.D., resident in training and radiation physicist
Ferdinand Hui, M.D., co-director of Radiology Artificial Intelligence Lab, director of interventional stroke (NCR), associate professor of radiology and radiological science, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and Johns Hopkins University Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare (affiliate)
Rebecca Krimins, D.V.M., co-director of the Center for Image-Guided Animal Therapy and assistant professor of radiology and radiological science
Larry Gainsburg, D.V.M., owner, Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery
Matthew Dreher, vice president of scientific partnerships at Boston Scientific
Dara Kraitchman, V.M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Image-Guided Animal Therapy and professor of radiology and radiological science
Clifford Weiss, M.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science and of biomedical engineering; medical director, the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering, Innovation and Design; director, interventional radiology research; director of the Johns Hopkins Vascular Anomalies Center; director of the Johns Hopkins HHT Center of Excellence