Dogs and humans develop malignant brain tumors at about the same rate and with similar biology. We have received NIH funding for a multi-institutional consortium to evaluate immunotherapy of these tumors.

“CANINE” is a multi-center study to investigate immunotherapy for dogs with malignant brain tumors. Collaborating veterinarians at regional study sites will treat canine gliomas in two separate studies. Treatment is paid for by the study and includes surgery to remove all or most of the tumor, followed by treatment with an oncolytic virus and, in some cases, a medicine called a checkpoint inhibitor, all post-operative imaging, hospitalization, and associated rechecks.

The virus, M032, is currently being used in FDA-approved human trials at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children’s Hospital of Alabama. M032 is injected directly into the tumor bed shortly after surgery and can replicate in and destroy glioma tumor cells without affecting healthy brain cells. M032 also cause tumor cells to secrete an immunity-stimulating protein (IL-12) before they die, which increases the dog’s anti-tumor immune response. 

Dogs diagnosed with a brain tumor using MRI suggestive of glioma are eligible for enrollment in this 12-month study. Pet-owners are responsible for costs of the initial referral exam and diagnostics leading to a brain tumor diagnosis. 

While our primary focus is care of subjects enrolled in the trial, we are also looking forward, collecting information to help us better understand this disease as well as current and future treatments. At UAB, samples will be analyzed extensively to measure local and systemic immune responses using flow cytometry and other immunologic assays, genomic profiling and serial imaging in order to characterize the biologic activity of M032 and correlate this data with clinical response to treatment.

This information will help us to understand responses to therapy and direct future treatments in both people and pets.

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