U of M cancer breakthrough amazes researchers

University of Minnesota researchers developed and tested a cancer drug that they believe could someday help patients live longer and with fewer side effects.
↓ Advertisement ↓

ST. PAUL, Minn. - University of Minnesota researchers developed and tested a cancer drug that they believe could someday help patients live longer and with fewer side effects.

You wouldn't know it walking into a room full of playful pups at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, but all are battling cancer. Now, many of their owners now get to spend significantly more time with them.

“We just never expected it was going to work as well as it did,” said Jaime Modiano, a U of M Vet School researcher, who along with his colleague Antonella Borgatti, led a study treating dogs with HSA Sarcoma, a fast-spreading incurable cancer.

They used a drug called eBAT, developed by another U of M professor. The results amazed them.

↓ Advertisement ↓

“I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life,” Modiano said.

Only 30 percent of dogs who get this cancer survive six months after being diagnosed. But if given the drug, 70 percent have lived that long.

And one of the dogs treated with eBAT four years ago is still alive. Modiano calls it unprecedented. The bigger picture in this study is what this breakthrough could mean for people. 

“The hope is that we'll be able to translate this drug for human use,” Borgatti said.

“This drug has potential to help people with a wide variety of cancers,” Modiano said.

The canine HSA Sarcoma is very similar to forms of sarcoma in people. The professors are optimistic it will work as well as it did with the dogs -- extending life, with fewer side-effects than other drugs on the market.

“Our goal and our vision is to create a world where we no longer fear cancer. And every time we create a new treatment that creates hope, we help to reduce the fear of cancer,” Modiano said.