The newly developed cancer vaccine for dogs has displayed promising results in clinical trials which have been ongoing since 2016. There is now optimism that the benefits seen in the dogs treated with this vaccine can potentially be translated into cancer treatments for humans. Over 300 dogs have been treated with the vaccine so far, and the twelve-month survival rate for dogs with certain cancers has increased from approximately 35 percent to 60 percent. Additionally, many of the tumors in the treated dogs have shown signs of shrinking.

Officially known as the Canine EGFR/HER2 Peptide Cancer Immunotherapeutic, this treatment was developed based on studies of autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues instead of foreign threats. The vaccine is intricately designed to stimulate the immune system to target cancer cells specifically. The treatment triggers the immune cells to produce antibody defenses that attach themselves to tumors and disrupt their growth patterns. These antibodies specifically target two proteins: epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Mutations that lead to the overexpression of these proteins are responsible for uncontrolled cell division in certain types of human and canine cancers. Unlike existing treatments that only utilize a single type of antibody, this new vaccine enhances the effects by generating a polyclonal response involving antibodies from multiple immune cells. This mechanism makes it challenging for cancer cells to develop resistance to the drug.

Veterinary oncologist Gerry Post from the Yale School of Medicine expressed his enthusiasm for the vaccine, emphasizing its revolutionary nature and significant potential for transforming cancer treatment for dogs. The vaccine is currently being used as a post-diagnosis treatment rather than a preventative measure, but it has already proven to be life-changing for dogs like Hunter who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and is now cancer-free two years later. The overall survival rate for dogs with osteosarcoma beyond twelve months is typically only around 30 percent. With approximately one in four dogs developing cancer during their lifetime, the positive impact of this treatment is substantial.

Considering the striking similarities between dog cancer and human cancer in terms of genetic mutations, tumor behavior, and treatment responses, the researchers believe that the insights gained from this vaccination approach in dogs will also enhance our understanding and treatment of cancers in humans. Apart from the Yale University team, other researchers are also making headway in developing cancer treatments for dogs, specifically targeting conditions such as melanoma and lymphoma. However, similar to human cancer cases, not all dogs respond favorably to treatment, making it challenging to predict which ones will benefit from it. Dr. Mamula from Yale University highlights that dogs, like humans, can also develop cancer spontaneously.

The cancer vaccine for dogs represents a groundbreaking advancement in the field of veterinary oncology, offering hope for improved cancer treatments not only for our furry companions but potentially for humans as well. The success of this vaccine in extending the survival rates and shrinking tumors in dogs underscores its potential to revolutionize cancer care and pave the way for more effective therapies in the future.


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