Calviri Inc. CEO Dr. Stephen Johnston recently wrote an article in Pharmacy Times discussing how important the relationship is between canines and humans in the fight against cancer. Calviri, an ASU spinout located on the Phoenix Bioscience Core. The company is working on a cancer vaccine that is currently part of the largest preventative cancer vaccine trial, with more than 800 canines participating. The hope is that, with success, the vaccine can eventually be used with humans, as well.
Below is an excerpt of the article in the Pharmacy Times. You can read the entire piece here.
How One Study and 800 Dogs Have Raised a Paw Against Cancer
There are currently more than 471 million canine pets globally.2 Just like people, our 4-legged family members can be struck by disease at any moment in their lifetimes. For dogs, the prevalence of disease is getting higher with each passing year; currently, 1 in 4 dogs will develop neoplasia, or abnormal tissue growths, at some point in their lives. Further, for dogs over the age of 10, there is a nearly 50% chance of being diagnosed with cancer—that’s almost the same rate of cancers as in humans. For this reason, researchers began developing a cancer vaccine for canines first.
Launched in 2019, the 5-year Vaccine Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS) is the largest and most ambitious canine cancer vaccine study ever conducted and includes a clinical trial for Calviri’s cancer preventative vaccine. This clinical trial is different because it isn’t using lab dogs to test the efficacy and safety of potential drug candidates. Instead, just like in a human clinical trial, dogs must enroll—or rather be enrolled by willing pet parents—and qualify to participate through a series of health exams indicating no pre-existing cancer. The double-blind trial is split in half, with 400 dogs receiving the anti-cancer vaccine, which contains 31 antigens from 8 common canine cancers, and 400 dogs receiving a placebo.
In 2022, at the end of the study’s third year, an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board determined that there were no adverse events associated with the vaccine, and there’s sufficient positive clinical data to move forward to the next stage of study investigation: efficacy. Because we don’t know everything there is to know yet about cancer in canines, efficacy of the vaccine will be tested this year, as well as in years 4 and 5, to make sure that it’s effectively stopping cancer before it starts. Right now, all signs are pointing to the potential for efficacy in cancer prevention.
Transferring Veterinary Data into Human Data
Many pet owners are participating in VACCS program and the Calviri clinical trial because they hope, just as the scientists do, that information garnered from the canine clinical trial will inform the development of a pancancer preventative vaccine for humans. So far, researchers are learning a significant amount about the immunology of canine cancer. That matters not only in developing more accurate predictions and more viable treatments for canine cancer, but when translated across timescales, it will also help scientists better understand the immunology of cancer in humans.