Dog in cancer vaccine clinical trial at UC Davis veterinary hospital
UC Davis is seeking healthy dogs for a cancer vaccine clinical trial.

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The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is one of three national participants in the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS trial). Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs (accounting for approximately 30 percent of all deaths), and this will be the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer.

The goal of the VACCS trial is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention—rather than treatment—of cancer in dogs. Dogs will be randomized to receive either a series of vaccines similar to other routine vaccines that are given to dogs currently, or placebo vaccines. Dogs will live at home and be checked 2-3 times yearly for five years after enrollment. A financial incentive will be offered to defray the cost associated with diagnostics and treatment of any cancers that dogs may develop, regardless of whether they are receiving vaccine or placebo.

Dogs being sought must meet the following criteria:
•    Healthy, with no history of previous cancer
•    Aged between 6 and 10 years
•    Weigh at least 11 pounds (5kg)
•    Be mixed breed, or of certain pure breeds only (see complete list)
•    Live within 150 miles of UC Davis
•    Have visited a veterinarian within 12 months of study entry, and have three years of previous medical history available for review

In addition to potentially providing a new strategy for cancer prevention in dogs, if successful, this study could provide important justification for eventually looking at a similar approach in humans.

UC Davis is part of a three-university contingent of veterinary schools participating in the VACCS trial. Along with veterinary schools at the University of Wisconsin and Colorado State University, UC Davis hopes to help enroll a total of 800 dogs in the study nationwide. Currently, only 28 dogs have enrolled in UC Davis’ goal of 275 dogs. Nationwide, a total of 195 dogs have enrolled to date.

For more information on the VACCS trial and to see if your dog is eligible, please visit the UC Davis Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials website.

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This vaccine protocol was developed by Dr. Stephen Johnston, director and professor at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Innovations in Medicine. Exclusive funding for the VACCS trial was provided by the Open Philanthropy Project, which awarded ASU a $6.4 million, multi-year grant to fund this project. The organization gives opportunities to different scientific projects and research ideas that aim to help improve lives. According to their website, they identify outstanding giving opportunities, make grants, follow the results, and publish the findings.

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