Does This Pet Beagle Hold The Key To New Cancer Treatments?
In a world-first trial Queensland researchers will treat 10 year-old Hoover's prostate cancer with nano-medicines in a bid to fast-track its use in humans.
"He's a ground-breaking, very important animal," says Dr Rod Straw, a Veterinary Oncology Specialist from the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre.
"Dogs are the only other animal that get prostate cancer spontaneously and instead of us inducing a cancer, we're actually treating an animal that has cancer," he says.
Hoover will be injected with experimental nano-medicines designed to specifically target diseased tissue.
"We engineer them to hang around in the body and circulate for a long time and every time they come across a tumour cell, they can bind to that tumour cell," said Associate Professor Kris Thurecht, from the University of Queensland.
The nano-medicines can then fight those cells directly; a far more precise method than traditional chemotherapy.
But it's the first time this treatment has been tested on anything larger than a lab mouse.
"Really what we're hoping to do is translating the information and ideas we learned in the lab animals into a real model," says Associate Professor Thurecht.
Doctor Straw predicts this may eventually allow trial drugs to be fine-tuned faster and used in humans more quickly.
"Hoover is a vanguard for us to do more trials in animals, but quickly bring that information to the human bedside," he says.
Man's best friend indeed.