McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Could today's treatment for cats help tomorrow's humans with cancer?

By Daily News
Published: November 4, 2014
Can a novel breast cancer treatment for cats help researchers develop future treatments for humans?
photo by Aanaa Yoo

Most breast cancer patients don't undergo treatment at the veterinarian's office.

Unless they're furry and four-legged.

Researchers led by Brian Lichty, an associate professor of pathology and molecular medicine and a member of the McMaster Immunology Research Centre, along with members of the Ontario Veterinary College, are treating their first feline patient as part of a study they hope will lead to a less invasive way to treat cancer in humans.

Maci — a twelve-year-old white house cat — has received oncolytic virus therapy to combat her breast cancer.

The treatment involves two injections: one to boost the immune system, the other a virus that kills the tumour from the inside.

The treatment is less invasive, has fewer side effects and is more precise than traditional chemotherapy because it only targets cancer cells.

The team chose to treat cats because cancers found in felines are similar to those that affect humans.

The team hopes to start clinical trials in humans if the study is successful.

The project is funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

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