Arizona State University awarded $6 million for preventative cancer dog experiment

TEMPE, AZ - A canine clinical trial is moving forward at Arizona State University after a professor was awarded more than $6 million dollars to test the effectiveness of a preventative cancer vaccine. 

Stephen Albert Johnston was recently awarded $6,421,402 to launch the “biggest cancer intervention trial in dogs ever,” he explained.

The trial will include at least 800 owners’ pets to test the efficacy of the vaccine, multi-valent frameshift peptide (FSP), to prevent cancer in dogs. 

During research over the last 10 years, Johnston’s team has discovered a way to identify tumor antigens that are common among cancer. 

FSP has already been tested on mice and they believe testing it on dogs will have several advantages.

"They get cancer and they die of cancer about six-fold faster than we do," Johnston said. 

Cancer is leading cause of death in dogs; some breeds even have a much higher cancer rate. However, canines respond to tumors and vaccines similarly to humans. the vaccine they’re using is comparable to one they would test in people, according to a press release.

"Almost assuredly the vaccine will be safe," Johnston said. "We've done a safety trail ahead of time and these will be owner enrolled dogs; these are not research dogs."

“We have been working over 10 years to develop a vaccine that could potentially prevent any cancer, said Luhui Shen, senior science director of the vaccine project. “Our next goal is to test the vaccine in owner-enrolled, healthy dogs. We are fairly confident that if the vaccine works in dogs, it could work in people.”

Dogs will be randomly chosen to receive either the real vaccine or a mock version. Through this experiment, researchers are expected to determine if FSP actually works.

"The vaccine that we put into dogs will be very similar to the vaccine we put into humans," Johnston explained.

If successful, it will prove that FSP vaccines can prevent cancer in the early stages. Johnston added that the vaccine will be inexpensive so it’s easily affordable for everyone.

"Our primary goal is to get this into humans," Johnston said.

Johnston is the director of the Biodesign Cancer for Innovations in Medicine and the CEO of Calviri Inc., a cancer vaccine company. He is also a professor in the School of Life Sciences.

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