In September, 2015, a group of clinicians and investigators in the fields of veterinary and human neuro-oncology, clinical trials, neuropathology, and drug development came together at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. This meeting served as the inaugural event launching a new consortium, the Comparative Brain Tumor Consortium (CBTC) focused on improving the understanding of naturally occurring canine brain cancer. Participants in the CBTC evaluated the role that naturally occurring canine brain tumors could have in advancing comparative oncology aimed at improving outcomes for canine and human patients with brain cancer. The group committed to collaboration, and the findings of the CBTC were published in a white paper, “Creation of an NCI comparative brain tumor consortium: informing the translation of new knowledge from canine to human brain tumor patients.” The AKC Canine Health Foundation, committed to this effort, is pleased to announce it has awarded the first research grant through this consortium, Clinical Trial of Procaspase-3 Activator (PAC-1) in Combination with Hydroxyurea for Treatment of Canine Meningioma, led by principal investigator, Dr. Timothy M. Fan, DVM, PhD from the University of Illinois.

“The National Cancer Institute is thrilled to partner with the academic community, with the generous support of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, to conduct the inaugural clinical trial of the Comparative Brain Tumor Consortium,” said Amy LeBlanc, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology), Director, Comparative Oncology Program.  “In this effort we bring together unique and cutting-edge technology, knowledge and clinical expertise to evaluate a novel therapeutic and diagnostic approach to canine meningioma.”

Primary brain tumors are a significant cause of illness and death in pet dogs, with meningioma accounting for approximately half of the cases seen by veterinary neurologists and oncologists. Although surgery remains the best treatment for dogs with meningioma, some dogs are not good candidates for this approach based on their tumor size and/or location. Dogs also may experience tumor regrowth after surgery. In these situations, effective treatment options are limited. New treatments that are both safe and effective are needed for dogs with meningioma.

Dr. Fan and a team of investigators from the National Cancer Institute’s Comparative Oncology Program  and selected veterinary academic centers will work together using state-of-the art imaging and a novel therapeutic approach for dogs with meningioma that are good surgical candidates. Dogs enrolled in this study will receive an investigational combination of chemotherapy agents (PAC-1 + hydroxyurea) and will be monitored with magnetic resonance and non-invasive molecular imaging techniques. Dogs will then undergo tumor removal to further their treatment. This approach to a new therapy for dogs has the potential to also translate to treatments for humans with advanced, locally-recurrent, and/or non-resectable meningioma.

According to Dr. Fan, “The National Cancer Institute’s Comparative Brain Tumor Consortium, through the generous support of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, has a unique opportunity to investigate a combination of novel advanced imaging techniques in conjunction with new therapies for dogs with meningioma. It is hoped that the findings derived from this new study will generate important data on how canine meningioma can be monitored non-invasively with molecular imaging, and if combining cytotoxic agents with a procaspase-3 activating compound can produce measurable anticancer effects.”

Dr. Diane Brown, CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and one of the co-authors of the original CBTC summary paper, says, “This first project is a way toward a future to advance care for dogs and humans who share environments, and diseases such as brain tumors. By working together through studies such as this one, we leverage the strengths of veterinary and human medicine and research to seek opportunities for new paths to cure diseases shared by both species.”