[T]he Moonshot initiative is promoting new ways to study cancer, particularly in the promising area of immunotherapy. And it specifically gave a boost to collaborative work between animal and human medicine, the realm of comparative oncology. Dogs get some cancers that are very similar to those in humans, and now with a new infusion of funding, researchers are exploring treatments that could save the lives of both dogs and people.
The potential for mutual benefit is huge. In the past decade, at least 10 cancer drugs have been developed with input from canine studies. Most recently, on July 3 the Food and Drug Administration approved selinexor (Xpovio) for people with multiple myeloma who have failed at least five other treatment regimens. Verdinexor, the veterinary version, is being developed to treat lymphoma in dogs while also being tested as an antiviral therapy in humans.
These projects all involve pets who acquired cancer naturally and who receive treatment through the studies, as humans often do. About half of dogs over the age of 10 will get cancer. “We are developing very critical, biologically rich information in patients who happen to be dogs,” says [veterinarian] Amy LeBlanc.
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