PBS: Can Dogs Sniff Cancer?

BloodhoundYou’ve probably heard stories like this: A dog persistently bumps against his owner’s chest. She goes for a mammogram and discovers she has a tumor–right where her dog was nudging her. Science has proven over the last decade or so that dogs can sniff cancer. But can this ability be translated into a diagnostic device to detect cancer early?

Among the research groups working on this challenge is the University of Pennsylvania’s Vet Working Dog Center. The center is training dogs to sniff out ovarian cancer cells. Working with a team of scientists, veterinarians at the center plan to take what they learn from this process to determine exactly what it is in cancer that dogs can smell, and then use nanotechnology to translate their findings into some sort of device–perhaps a breath test that will allow physicians to diagnose cancer before patients even have symptoms.

PBS featured the center on its Newshour recently. Watch the story here.

FDA Provides Info for Owners of Dogs with Cancer

VetWithDogI was interested to see the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s recent consumer alert titled “My Dog Has Cancer: What Do I Need to Know?”

For many years, there was actually only one fully FDA-approved cancer drug on the market for dogs: Palladia, used to treat dogs with mast cell tumors. But now several pharmaceutical companies are preparing to submit applications to the FDA for approval of new cancer drugs for pets. So I guess it made sense for the agency to reach out to consumers now.

Some of the topics in this alert include:

–How the FDA goes about reviewing the safety and efficacy of medicines developed to treat pets

–The difference between a “full” approval and a “conditional” approval

–Warning signs that your dog may have cancer

–Questions to ask your vet about potential treatments

Read the alert here.

Animal Health is Booming

FAHThe animal health industry is on a roll these days–a trend I’ve been covering extensively for FierceMarkets.

Check out some of the stats: The market for animal medicines and vaccines is estimated to be $22 billion a year and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% per year through 2016.

Total spending by American pet owners alone hit $55.5 billion in 2013, up from $45.5 billion just 5 years ago. Spending on veterinary care that included checkups and purchases of prescription drugs was $14.2 billion–an increase of about 4% over the previous year.

Want to learn more about this burgeoning industry? Check out these two eBooks I wrote for Fierce:

The Future of Animal Health

Animal Health Leaders Embrace Biotech R&D

New Cancer Drug for Dogs Could Help People

OSU vet Cheryl London doses 3-year old Carter, a golden retriever diagnosed with lymphoma, with the new drug. Image courtesy of OSU.

Vets at Ohio State University are working with biotech firm Karyopharm to bring a new cancer therapy to market for dogs and people. They recently announced that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration had approved the drug for compassionate use in dogs with lymphoma–the first new option for dogs with the disease in more than two decades. Veterinarians will have limited access to the drug while the company works to complete the clinical trials necessary for a full approval.

OSU veterinarian Cheryl London led the trials of the drug, which works by preventing tumor-suppressing proteins from exiting the nucleus of cells–an action that normally allows cancer to grow out of control.

Read more here.


Introducing my new book Heal on the Vital Role of Dogs in Cancer Research

Arlene and MollyI am happy to announce that my second book is slated to be published in 2015 by ECW Press. It’s called Heal: The Vital Role of Dogs in the Search for Cancer Cures and it’s about the growing field of comparative oncology. This book offers an inside look at dogs in cancer research and the many innovative studies meant to help both dogs and people with the disease.

Did you know dogs and people get many of the same types of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma, osteosarcoma, and breast cancer? Well, they do, and the veterinarians and oncologists in comparative oncology are doing important work that’s resulting in new treatments for both man and man’s best friend.

I also write about emerging research proving the remarkable ability of dogs to sniff cancer, and how everything scientists are learning about the dog’s nose may someday become the basis of new devices that can detect cancer early, when it may still be possible to cure it.

Watch here for updates on this exciting new book, and please sign up for my mailing list here.