SAN ANTONIO - A new treatment is in the trial phase to fight cancer in dogs and other companion animals.

  • More than 100,000 dogs affected every year
  • Research taking place in South Texas

Some of the scientists working on it are doing the research in South Texas.

There's no telling how far pet parents will go to help their four-legged friends when they can, but sometimes it's not that easy.

"Melanoma in dogs is a huge issue that really doesn't have good therapies." -- Southwest Research Institute Senior Research Scientist Kenneth Carson.

Technology started at SWRI is being used to create a vaccine to treat and prevent cancer in canines. Studies suggest more than 100,000 dogs are affected every year in the U.S.

"The industry itself is a $5 billion a year industry," said Carson.

He said it all started when Man's Best Friends Therapeutics reached out.

"They found our technology just by doing a patent search. They came across us that way and contacted us directly and they were so excited about the technology that they have exclusively licensed it from us to continue development," he said.

They're not testing on animals for the project at SWRI. In fact, most of their work happens with beakers and particles. The treatment super-charges the immune system to fight cancer cells.

"These are true platform technologies that when brought together can actually be used to generate a whole set of different therapeutics," Carson said.

Once the therapy for animals is developed, researchers say the sky is the limit when it comes to where this could go next.

"Actually melanoma in dogs is the very first product they're going to try and develop and eventually they do have an eye on going to human diseases as well," he said.

It might take a decade before the treatment becomes mainstream and it certainly wouldn't be the same for animals and humans, but Carson said the benefits from the technology used could be truly groundbreaking.

"It does have the potential to be much more effective and much less detrimental than some of the cancer treatments that are out there. Things like chemotherapy, they actually have a lot of drawbacks to them and this doesn't have those," said Carson.

For more information:

SWRI website

MBF Therapeutics website