Health & Fitness

KU cancer drug study finds success in dogs and could be promising for humans

Cody, a golden-haired shepherd, received new cancer-fighting therapy at University of Kansas. He’s now cancer free. It could lead to human clinical trials.
Cody, a golden-haired shepherd, received new cancer-fighting therapy at University of Kansas. He’s now cancer free. It could lead to human clinical trials. University of Kansas

University of Kansas’ dogged research to find new treatments for cancer may lead to new therapies for humans.

Researchers at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center have already had success with a revolutionary injectable cancer-fighting chemotherapy regimen that has left Cody, an 11-year-old shepherd mix, cancer free.

To help Cody, researchers used a combination of drugs that included the same cancer-fighting drug — cisplatin — that had been used to free Cody’s owner of breast cancer eight years ago.

A KU Medical Center statement about the treatment said that to create a new drug named HylaPlat, KU researchers “blended cisplatin, a platinum-containing anti-cancer medication created in the 1970s, with hyaluronan, a polymer that occurs naturally in the human body.”

In clinical trials, HylaPlat was injected directly into cancerous tumors in dogs. KU researchers said the results have shown great promise in treating a variety of cancers.

“And if the success continues, it could smooth the way for testing in humans,” the statement said.

The initial clinical trial began four years ago with seven large-breed dogs with small forms of oral cancer.

The dog got what researchers determined to be “a good formulation of the chemotherapy,” KU officials reported. The researchers used pet dogs suffering with actual cancers as opposed to lab animals.

Of those first seven dogs, the cancer in three disappeared, and two others showed signs of partial remission or slowing of the disease.

When news surfaced of that break through, pet owners with dogs suffering from all forms of cancer wanted in the trial. Researchers, faced with a huge demand for the treatment, extended the types of cancers being tested and places on the dog’s body for treatment.

That’s when they met Cody, who came to researchers with a lump growing on his right hind foot — cancer. His owner was worried he’d lose the leg.

Cody’s HylaPlat injection was on July 15. “Within weeks, he was back to being himself,” KU researchers said.

Except for a small scar on his right back paw where the cancer was removed and having his belly shaved for follow-up ultrasounds, you’d never know he’d had cancer, researchers said.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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