Biotech company PharmAust is calling out for dogs with B cell lymphoma to helpevaluate a newly formulated anti-cancer drug shown to be safe, effective andtasty for dogs. This comes following a successful compassionate use trial ofthe same drug, Monepantel (MPL).

Lymphoma is a common cancer diagnosed in dogs. Symptoms can include swellings(enlarged lymph nodes), lethargy, weight loss and loss of appetite.

“Currently, there is no cure for B cell lymphoma,” said Dr Richard Mollard,Chief Scientific Officer of PharmAust. “Usually, only 50% of dogs with B celllymphoma will survive without treatment for 30 days and the other half willhave progressive disease¹.”

Five veterinary trial centres are set up in New South Wales, Victoria,Queensland and Western Australia to evaluate MPL in dogs that have been newlydiagnosed with B-cell lymphoma and have not started any other treatment. MPLis already approved for veterinary use for a different indication and species.PharmAust is aiming to repurpose MPL as a safe and effective cancer treatment.

“The initial trial in pet owner’s dogs with cancer was very successful,” saidDr Mollard. “We were pleased to see that six of seven dogs achieved stabledisease over the prescribed 14-day trial period, with six of seven dogs alsoshowing reductions in their tumour sizes. Furthermore, no safety issues wereencountered by the use of Monepantel as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent inthese dogs.”

The original formulation used to dissolve the drug, however, had a very poortaste, which made it difficult for pet owners to administer the capsules totheir dogs. PharmAust is now conducting a repeat of the same trial with abetter formulation, for a longer time period and in more trial centres.

“Currently, the best indicated treatment option is chemotherapy, which is avery aggressive therapy, and relapse can occur within six to 12 months.Monepantel is comparatively very gentle and we would like to see dogs doingwell over the first 28-day period, then three and six months, and longer,”said Dr Mollard.

“If this trial is a success, it means that going forward, owners of pet dogswith B cell lymphoma will be given a greater choice of treatment options fortheir dogs. PharmAust would like to see dogs feeling considerably better, withtumours either disappearing or stabilised.”

Which dogs with lymphoma are eligible?

Leading the Australia-wide trial is University of Melbourne’s U-Vet WerribeeAnimal Hospital where small animal veterinary oncologist Dr Claire Cannon andher team will evaluate MPL in dogs that have been newly diagnosed with B-celllymphoma and have not started any treatment.

“Dogs can have any stage of lymphoma but must be feeling generally well,” saidDr Cannon. “Ultimately the patient will only be given the treatment if theyhave B cell lymphoma but immunophenotyping (analysis of heterogeneouspopulations of cancer cells) is covered as part of the initial screening.

Program entry criteria

The dog entry criteria for the new clinical trial program are:

● Any stage of lymphoma (based on physical exam)

● Substage A (feeling well)

● Immunophenotype can be pending but must be submitted, and needs to be B-cellbased on clinical characteristics

● No previous treatment, including corticosteroids (prednisolone)

● No other significant concurrent medical problems

● Good quality of life.

The MPL program involves consultations/treatments at the dog’s nearest trialcentre:

● U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital (University of Melbourne) in Werribee VIC

● Sydney University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in Sydney NSW

● Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney, Homebush NSW

● Western Australian Veterinary Emergency and Specialty, Perth WA

● Animal Referral Hospital in Brisbane, Sinnamon Park QLD

Owners would have to transport their dogs to the centre and pay the cost forinitial consultation for diagnosis. Once your pet is diagnosed with lymphoma,PharmAust will cover all clinical trial costs, including travel expenses toand from the trial centre as well as post trial maintenance treatmentif bothpet owners and vets consider this might be beneficial.

Pet owners interested in enrolling their dog in the MPL trial need tocontact their veterinarian for a referral to their nearest trial centre.

Image: Joe Vitto

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