Posted on January 29, 2017
Lymphoma’s Newest Enemy
For the first time in a very long time, a new drug has been approved for dogs with lymphoma. The drug is called Tanovea-CA1 and it is produced by VetDC Inc., a startup company associated with Colorado State University. Earlier this month, Tanovea-CA1 received conditional approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of dogs with lymphoma.
What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in dogs. Golden Retrievers are the unfortunate poster-puppies for this disease. Lymphoma arises from lymphocytes, normal white blood cells involved in the immune system. In dogs, lymphoma most commonly arises within the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow, but because lymphocytes circulate virtually everywhere, it makes sense that lymphoma can grow anywhere within the body.
Lymphoma cells tend to be quite responsive to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and it’s not unusual to achieve complete remission (no obvious trace of the cancer remaining) in response to treatment. What is very rare, however, is for lymphoma to be cured. Invariably, there is relapse of the cancer. While “rescue chemotherapy protocols” are often capable of zapping the cancer back into remission, over time those crafty lymphoma cells figure out how to develop significant drug resistance. With rare exception, lymphoma is a terminal disease.
The active ingredient in Tanovea-CA1 is rabacfosadine, first developed for use as a cancer-fighting drug in people. In dogs rabacfosadine has been documented to have anti-tumor activity in “naïve” lymphoma patients (those who have not yet been treated) as well as in those with a relapse of their cancer following treatment with other chemotherapy drugs. Tanovea-CA1 is an every-three-week treatment administered intravenously for up to five dosages. For now, Tanovea-CA1 has received “conditional” FDA approval, meaning it can be given to a dog for up to one year. The conditional approval may be extended with ongoing evidence of effectiveness.
How does Tanovea-CA1 compare?
The gold standard treatment for canine lymphoma utilizes a drug called doxorubicin that is often combined with three other drugs (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone) in what is called a CHOP protocol.
In a study combining Tanovea and doxorubicin in 54 dogs with lymphoma, an 81% positive response rate was observed. This Tanovea/doxorubicin one-two punch was found to be generally safe and well tolerated.
The rate of response and duration of remission using the Tanovea/doxorubicin combination were both comparable to CHOP regimen results. Here’s the big difference. The CHOP protocol typically requires 12 to 16 treatment visits to complete. The Tanovea/doxorubicin treatment protocol was accomplished in only six visits. What a monumentally positive difference this would make, not only for the dogs, but for their human companions as well. I don’t yet know how pricing of the two protocols compares.
From my point of view, this is really great news on the canine lymphoma front. I’m on board with anything that makes effective treatment of this disease more efficient and less taxing for everyone involved.
Have you ever cared for or known a dog with lymphoma? If so, what was the breed?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at http://www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.