Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Participating in Joint Clinical Trial Treating Glioma Brain Cancer in Dogs & People


Four institutions including Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are working together in a clinical trial to look at and treat the deadliest form of brain cancer in both people and animals. Glioma.

“The goal is to get better animal models of the disease. These are animals with naturally occurring tumors. So, they develop in much the same way spontaneously as human tumors,” said Dr. Jey Koehler, Asst. Professor in the Department of Pathobiology at Auburn University.

Because researchers said glioma tumors are similar in both people and dogs, they want to see if studying the tumor in dogs will help treat humans and vice versa.

“These patients live with us, they have the same environment, the same diet sometimes, it’s a good example for us to try these treatments on them to see how our K9 friends are going to react to the treatment and then how it’s potentially going to benefit human medicine too,” said Dr. Amy Yanke, Asst. Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Auburn University.

University of Alabama at Birmingham asked Auburn University, The University of Georgia and Mississippi State to recruit 18 dogs with this specific brain tumor for the trial.

Researchers tell us Boxers, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs and even Pitublls are more susceptible to this naturally occurring tumor, but any dog is welcome to enroll.

“We are especially interested in those dogs because they have a higher chance of getting the tumor and we would like to know more about the molecular and genetic level of those tumors in those dogs,” said Dr. Koehler.

The dogs who have this particular tumor will then go through brain surgery and veterinarians will remove as much of the tumor as they can.

The tumor will then be injected with M032, a herpes virus, designed by doctors at UAB to attack the tumor cells and spare healthy cells.

The tumor will also be sent for genetics and molecular testing.

“By being able to give this treatment into the tumor bed itself, we hope to have less side effects in our patients and develop a better treatment for brain tumors itself. There is no overall effective treatment at this time,” said Dr. Yanke.

Researchers hope through this five year. $6.2 million study they are able to find a treatment that could benefit both humans and dogs with this most aggressive form of brain cancer.

“We’re not only helping man’s best friend, but helping man with this treatment. I think this a great step moving forward in the future,” said Dr. Yanke.

Auburn University is recruiting patients. So, if you want to enroll your dog in this trial call (334) 844-4546 for more information.

Before the dogs can be enrolled, though, they will have to go through MRI imaging to see if they first have glioma and if the tumor is operable. If they are, then all of the dog’s treatment will be paid for. But, if the MRI comes back and doesn’t show this particular tumor, then the owner is responsible for the cost.