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Investigating a New Treatment for Oral Cancers in Cats, 2014

Principal Investigators: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson and Dr. Lester R. Drewes, University of Minnesota

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a common and usually fatal feline cancer. A better understanding of how these tumors progress and the identification of new therapy targets for intervention are required to improve outcomes. Researchers will determine whether small molecular inhibitors block some of the mechanisms that drive oral tumor growth and drug resistance. What they learn may provide a new approach that will improve the long-term prognosis and quality of life for cats with oral cancer.

Understanding Why and How Canine Osteosarcoma Tumors Spread, 2014

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jaime F. Modiano, University of Minnesota

Renegade cancer cells escape from virtually every tumor, but only rare cells from certain tumor types survive, grow and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. In the case of bone cancer, this metastasis leads to death for virtually every patient. Researchers do not fully understand how bone cancer cells spread from the primary site in the bone to the lungs, but recent work suggests that the tumors send out small bags of cargo (vesicles) and cell fragments into the bloodstream. These vesicles carry biologically active genes and proteins, and when they reach the lungs, they prepare and help make this site welcoming for the renegade tumor cells. Researchers hope to find markers in the blood circulation that will help them understand why and how the tumor spreads. Their findings may be used to develop treatments to help prevent osteosarcoma metastasis in dogs.

Determining a More Effective Treatment for Canine Lymphoma, 2011

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jaime F. Modiano, University of Minnesota

This study evaluates the efficacy of two antibodies that could treat canine B-cell lymphoma. The investigators theorize that either antibody alone will kill lymphoma cells and delay tumor progression but that the combined effect of the two antibodies will be more effective as a treatment for dogs with lymphoma.

Studying Chemo-Resistant Cancer Cells, 2009

Principal investigator: Aric M. Frantz, University of Minnesota

Cancer therapy for dogs has become more common, but treatment doesn’t always lead to long-term remission, and some therapies have debilitating side effects. A major reason for failure of conventional treatments may be their inability to eradicate cancer stem cells. These cells are self-renewing, can spread to new areas of the body and can give rise to daughter cells, which can rapidly divide. This means that even one cancer stem cell left behind after treatment can cause the cancer to return. Cancer stem cells appear to be less susceptible to traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy. Researchers will study cancer stem cells to help them develop therapeutic strategies that target these cells and generate new, more effective treatment approaches with fewer side effects for dogs with cancer.