Specialists from the Veterinary Specialty Center of the Hudson Valley in New York are conducting a pilot study with a cancer vaccine that may prolong survival in dogs with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and cats with mammary (breast) cancer. The study will test whether an adenovirus-based vaccine followed by a DNA plasmid administered via electrogenetransfer can elicit anti-tumor immunity and increase survival times.

The vaccine targets this Her2/neu pathway of tumorigenesis, allowing the body’s immune system to battle the cancer in addition to standard therapies. No placebos are involved and the study is unfunded. This immunotherapy is an extension of the center’s telomerase cancer vaccine that has shown success against canine lymphoma in Europe.

Up to 50% of dogs with osteosarcoma will express the Her2/neu genetic marker. In cats, Her2/neu has been expressed in this cancer and despite surgical removal of the glands, metastasis is common. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19379209; ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19944791