NCCF-New Hemangiosarcoma Research Study

Gary Nice, President and CEO of the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), has exciting news about a hemangiosarcoma research project.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is a difficult cancer to diagnosis. It is often found too late to save the dog.

NCCF has initiated the research project led by Dr. Elizabeth Plihar, D.V.M., PhD and John Ohlfest, PhD.

Drs. Plihar and Ohlfest developed a treatment plan for dogs with glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The treatment is a combination of surgical removal of the tumor, in some cases local gene therapy and then creating an individualized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent recurrence.

In August 2008, using this treatment on a dog named Batman, there was no tumor recurrence. Batman lived a normal life until his death in February 2010 from cardiac failure. Since dogs and humans share many physiological traits, this could pave the way for brain cancer treatment in humans.

A year ago, a dog named Booster was diagnosed with squamous cell nasal carcinoma. Booster was given 3 weeks to live, a prognosis his owner, Davis Hawn, was unwilling to accept without further investigation. Booster had the tumor surgically removed and underwent chemotherapy. Davis’ research led him to Dr. Plihar who, after Davis’ insistence, agreed to make the vaccine even though it had not been tried previously for this type of cancer. Ten months after treatment, Booster is cancer-free.

Booster’s owner, Davis, contacted NCCF with this amazing news. In turn, NCCF asked Dr. Plihar if she would be willing to try the same protocol with splenic HSA.

Dr. Plihar required two steps before beginning the study of HSA. First, cancer cells must be cultured in the lab and next, the vaccines must stimulate immune cells to attach tumor cells. At present, the research is going ahead and looks very promising.

If you wish to donate to the project, please go online to and look for the hemangiosarcoma research project.

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