Bone marrow transplants for cancerous canines too

September 4th, 2008 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 4 (IANS) Dogs suffering from lymphoma will be able to receive canine bone marrow transplants in a clinical setting, thanks to North Carolina State University.Canine lymphoma is one of the commonest types of cancer, originating in the lymph nodes, spleen, but the survival rate with current treatments is extremely low among dogs.

Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, in tandem with chemotherapy, has raised human survival rates considerably, and it is being hoped that dogs will also benefit in a similar way.

Steven Suter, assistant professor of oncology in North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, received three leukophoresis machines (LMs) donated by the Mayo Clinic.

LMs are designed to harvest healthy stem cells from cancer patients. They are used along with drug therapy to harvest stem cells that have left the patient’s bone marrow and entered the bloodstream.

These harvested cancer-free cells are then reintroduced into the patient after total body radiation is used to kill residual cancer cells left in the body. This treatment is called peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

The machines, once used for human patients, are suitable for canine use without modification, as bone marrow therapy protocols for people were originally developed using dogs.

“It’s not a new technology, it’s just a new application of an existing technology,” Suter said. “Doctors have been treating human patients with bone marrow transplantation for many years, and there have been canine patient transplants performed in a research setting for about 20 years, but it’s never been feasible as a standard therapy until now.”

“We know that dogs who have received bone marrow transplants have a cure rate of at least 30 percent versus about zero to two percent for dogs who don’t eceive the transplants,” Suter added. “The process itself is painless for dogs - the only thing they lose is a bit of body heat while the cells are being harvested.”

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