Trial begins in canine cancer study led by ASU researcher

Dog lovers rejoice — an ASU led study is one step closer to creating a preventative vaccine for cancer in dogs after beginning its trial phase this summer.

The study began in 2018 after ASU received an over $6.4 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to fund the research.

Stephen Johnston, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute’s Center for Innovations in Medicine, is the lead researcher on the vaccine and has been working on it for about 12 years.

“I’m an inventor, so I decided to see if I could invent something in the area of cancer that might be a big deal, and so I came up with this idea,” Johnston said.

Colorado State University, University of California Davis and University of Wisconsin-Madison are also involved in the trial. ASU does not have a veterinary school, so the other schools are working with the dogs at their sites.

Dogs between the ages of six and ten were recruited to be a part of the trial and were screened for any cancer. If the results showed no cancer, they were eligible for the trial as this specific vaccine is a preventative measure.

The dogs were then split into two separate groups with one group receiving the vaccine and the others as a placebo group.

The 800 participating dogs will be monitored for five years to see if any develop cancer.

David Vail, a professor of oncology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, is one of the partners on the trial.