Lending a paw to cure canine cancer

It’s a bit of a cliché for most medical professionals to want to cure cancer, but for some Brisbane dogs and their families, that concept is not far from reality. Murrumba Downs veterinarian and veterinary pathologist, Dr Annika Oksa, is elbow deep in an innovative Australian pilot study, researching dogs with cancer. The trial involves injecting portions of the dogs’ own tumour back into it, thereby ‘waking up’ the immune system to recognise these cells as being nasty and foreign. The immune system then attacks the cells. 

Whilst the trial is still quite young, the results have been promising. In the dogs that have responded to the vaccine, the cancers are simply melting away and at this stage, the injections even appear curative in some patients.  

The really exciting part is that canine cancers have similar appearance, behaviour, genetics and environmental causes to human cancers, so the study effectively advances both human and canine medicine. Cancer is common in our pet dogs, and certain breeds are very prone to specific cancers, which creates a powerful research opportunity. These new treatments have cured pets and provided safety and efficacy data for ongoing human clinical trials. 

Dr Annika’s research studies several major common and devastating cancers in pet dogs - mast cell tumour, lymphoma, melanoma and carcinomas. While Dr Annika works out of Murrumba Downs Vet clinic, the patients can be referred from their usual GP vet from far and wide to participate in the vital research and most of the services are free to the client.  

If you know someone whose dog has been diagnosed with cancer, encourage them to have a chat with Dr Annika at Murrumba Downs Vet to see if they are eligible for this innovative trial.