At the beginning of this month, a clinical trial for the first dog cancer vaccine began in Arizona. And the results are promising.
Stephen Johnston, an ASU scientist, has been working on this vaccine for over a decade. “About 12 years ago, I decided I wanted to invent something important in cancer,” Johnston said. “That’s when we came up with this idea of a vaccine to prevent cancer because that would be the ultimate invention.”
At first, he wanted to test the vaccine out on humans, but he found it hard to get volunteers as well as funding. So, upon the suggestion of others, he changed his focus group to dogs.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in older dogs, just like people. And 1 in 3 dogs will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes.
For this study, the world’s largest ever conducted on dogs, 800 pooches will participate. Half of them will be given the vaccine, and half will be given the placebo. Neither the pet parents nor the vets will know which patient got what. The research will continue for five years, with each patient receiving a checkup every six months to see if he/she is still cancer-free.
And if the study is successful, humans will be next. “If it works, it will be inexpensive and accessible to anyone in the world,” Johnston said. “And that was important to us.”
Now it’s just a matter of time to see if it works! What do you think of this new study?