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Pets Battling Cancer Can Join Clinical Trials, Too

Vets, physicians say a new system may speed up drug discovery for dogs, cats and humans


Then, after tests to see if the drugs might be toxic in humans, the drugs are evaluated in human clinical trials, which take more than a decade to conduct. "So the drugs that are coming out now were starting [to be evaluated] 12 years ago," she said.

Testing the drugs in pets speeds up the process, allowing researchers to determine if a medication works before taking it to human clinical trials, Fossum said. With a pet owner's informed consent, "we can try a new drug that seems promising a lot sooner," she said.

The concept of a cancer database for dogs and cats could expand to include other diseases, such as diabetes. About 800,000 dogs have type 1 diabetes in the United States, Fossum said. Other conditions that a veterinary registry could serve include endocrine, neurological and cardiac issues.

About 6 million dogs and 6 million cats in the United States receive a cancer diagnosis each year, according to the Animal Cancer Foundation, in Norwalk, Conn. If your dog or cat is one of them, you can register your pet with the National Veterinary Cancer Registry.

The registry was created by a consortium of animal and human cancer doctors, including specialists from the Baylor Healthcare System in Texas, the Texas Veterinary Oncology Group and the CARE Foundation, a Florida-based animal rescue and wildlife education organization.

Because the registry is new, it may take some time before effective clinical trial matchmaking can occur between animals and drug developers, Fossum said.

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