MADISON, Wisconsin (WMTV) – A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine combines canine, cancer, and military.
“In this study, we’re trying to turn the immune system back on to target cancer in patients,” said Prof. David Vail, Barbara A. Suran’s Chair in Comparative Oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
The Veterans Affairs Department is funding the research as many overseas veterans develop melanoma from exposure to sunlight, and researchers have found similarities between cancers in dogs and humans.
Instead of surgery or chemotherapy, treatment includes a combination of radiation and antibody injections to attack tumors.
“Hoping to inform studies on people who are also running this type of treatment,” Vail said.
In the past two months, Brittney Maehl, who lives in Oshkosh, has been driving almost two hours regularly so that her dog Chester can attend the trial.
Chester has a malignant melanoma on the roof of his mouth.
“You think ‘how long?’ Said Maehl. “You don’t know, am I counting down hours, minutes or days?”
The decision to include Chester in the study was an easy one for Maehl, an Annapolis graduate and marine veteran.
“[There] Tears ran down [my face]”Said Maehl.” It is amazing that he is receiving top notch treatment and at the same time he is helping find that cure or treatment for my brothers and sisters in the military. “
After about two months, the Chester tumor shrank to at least half its original size.
“It’s an honor for him to be a part of it and it’s just great, an incredible connection, and we’re blessed and grateful for that,” said Maehl.
Chester has a better quality of life but is not fully cured. Vail said a small amount of the cancer had spread to Chester’s lungs.
To be clear, the study doesn’t give the dogs cancer, but treats those who have already been diagnosed with melanoma.
To see if your dog is eligible for a study, you can contact the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved.