Published: 18/02/2015 17:21:35
ADVANCING CANCER TREATMENT AND RESEARCH IN THE KENNEL CLUB CANCER CENTRE
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has successfully fulfilled its commitment to the Kennel Club and repaid, on time, an interest-free £1.5 million loan in full. The loan was given to us in 2011 to help build the pioneering Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT, designed to treat dogs, cats and horses. The loan significantly accelerated the build and development time of the centre which was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in November 2012, just one year after the loan was received.
To date, more than 130 dogs from 20 breeds with 15 types of cancer have been treated in the Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT. In total, the Centre has administered more than 1,300 doses of radiation in cancer treatment since opening, with 2015 set to be the busiest year yet as the Centre’s reputation grows and caseload increases.
As a charity known for both our specialist veterinary services and veterinary research, we have a dedicated canine cancer research programme involving clinical oncologists, molecular biologists and geneticists, working together on one site. The addition of the purpose built cancer centre, equipped with a linear accelerator, a high dose radiation therapy unit and CT scanner to administer radiotherapy treatment, has enabled us to significantly further veterinary and scientific knowledge of cancer in dogs whilst offering the full spectrum of cancer treatments; surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy from one specialist centre, which is less stressful for patients and owners.
The centre is increasing our clinical knowledge of how best to treat and diagnose cancer, with many of our clinicians undertaking peer-reviewed research projects based on their clinical observations to further veterinary medicine. At the same time, our scientists are working on research projects to better understand, and fight, the disease in dogs from all possible avenues.
Dr. Mark Vaudin, CEO of the AHT, said: “The Kennel Club were incredibly generous to give us the interest-free loan which enabled us to complete the build of the cancer centre in record time. We’re proud to repay the loan as promised and to have treated so many patients in a short space of time.
“Continued support from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust has also enabled us to make incredible progress in the last two years in our cancer research programme. We’re hopeful that in the future we’ll be even closer to developing tests which will help vets to more accurately diagnose and treat cancers in dogs.”
In the last year, AHT scientists have been evaluating whether archived tumour biopsies, normally only used by pathologists for making a diagnosis, can be useful in ‘molecular genetic’ investigations. We hope that by studying these tumour biopsies we can better understand how tumours behave.
Our study has focussed on uveal melanomas, the most common primary eye cancer, affecting all dog breeds. At present the only way to predict whether this tumour will spread is to remove an affected eye, or a significant part of an eye, for examination by a pathologist. A consequence of this is that eyes are sometimes unnecessarily removed from dogs found to have ‘benign’ tumours.
Results to date have been encouraging and we hope that the research could lead to the development of a minimally-invasive test to predict if a tumour of this kind will spread. As well as preventing the unnecessary removal of eyes unaffected by uveal melanoma, the availability of such a test would mean a patient would not have to undergo anaesthesia and surgery in order to provide a tumour biopsy.
The pilot study using uveal melanoma biopsies has been made possible through use of the GeneAtlas System, funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. We are planning further studies, using this technology, to learn more about oral melanomas and mast cell tumours, two of the most common cancers in dogs. In the future our research could lead to the development of improved prognostic tests, helping clinicians to decide on the most appropriate treatment for a dog affected by one of these cancers.
Professor Steve Dean, Chairman of the Kennel Club, said: “The Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the Animal Health Trust carries out remarkable work to benefit dog health and we are glad we were able to assist by providing the loan. The number of dogs already helped by the Centre is extremely encouraging and we look forward to the further strides it is taking in terms of researching and treating cancer in dogs.
“We are thankful that the financial support provided by the Kennel Club has now been repaid and we look forward to continuing to work with the team at the AHT to further improve dog health.”
Dr Mark Vaudin, added “The Kennel Club is a fantastic partner to our vital work. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Breed Clubs, breeders and dog owners who give so generously, both financially and in the form of samples, to the AHT’s research. Their continued support helps us to make this progress in the fight against cancer in dogs.”
Click on the links below to find out more about the AHT’s work to fight cancer in animals:
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