Dogs needed for promising anti-cancer drug clinical trial

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canine anti-cancer drug
Dr Claire Cannon (left). Photo: Joe Vitto

Biotech company PharmAust is seeking dogs with B cell lymphoma to help evaluate a newly formulated anti-cancer drug shown to be safe, effective and tasty for dogs. This comes following a successful compassionate use trial of the same drug, Monepantel (MPL).

Lymphoma is a common cancer diagnosed in dogs. Symptoms can include swellings (enlarged lymph nodes), lethargy, weight loss and loss of appetite.

“Currently, there is no cure for B cell lymphoma,” PharmAust’s chief scientific officer Dr Richard Mollard said. 

“Usually, only 50 per cent of dogs with B cell lymphoma will survive without treatment for 30 days and the other half will have progressive disease.”

Four veterinary trial centres are set up in NSW, VIC and WA to evaluate MPL in dogs that have been newly diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma and have not started any other treatment. 

MPL is already approved for veterinary use for a different indication and species. PharmAust is aiming to repurpose MPL as a safe and effective cancer treatment.

“The initial trial in pet owner’s dogs with cancer was very successful,” Dr Mollard said. “We were pleased to see that six of seven dogs achieved stable disease over the prescribed 14-day trial period, with six of seven dogs also showing reductions in their tumour sizes. Furthermore, no safety issues were encountered by the use of Monepantel as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent in these dogs.” 

The original formulation used to dissolve the drug, however, had a very poor taste, which made it difficult for pet owners to administer the capsules to their dogs. PharmAust is now conducting a repeat of the same trial with a better formulation, for a longer time period and in more trial centres.

Leading the Australia-wide trial is University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital where small animal veterinary oncologist Dr Claire Cannon and her team will evaluate MPL in dogs that have been newly diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma and have not started any treatment. 

“Dogs can have any stage of lymphoma but must be feeling generally well,” said Dr Cannon. 

“Ultimately the patient will only be given the treatment if they have B cell lymphoma but immunophenotyping (analysis of heterogeneous populations of cancer cells) is covered as part of the initial screening.”

Pet owners interested in enrolling their dog in the MPL trial need to contact their veterinarian for a referral to their nearest trial centre.

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