Cancer treatment once reserved for humans now available for dogs in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Inspired by advances in human medicine, a new type of therapy to treat cancer in dogs is being offered at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Louisville.

The use of monoclonal antibodies to treat certain types of cancer is still relatively new in the human world. Now the research has been used to create a treatment for dogs who have been diagnosed with lymphoma, a common type of cancer.

Dr. Sara Allstadt, board-certified veterinary oncologist.

Dr. Sara Allstadt, board-certified veterinary oncologist.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is only offered at a few locations around the country, according to Dr. Sara Allstadt, a board-certified veterinary oncologist with BluePearl in Louisville. She worked with monoclonal antibodies while serving as faculty at the University of California-Davis and said she thinks it’s one of the most promising developments in veterinary oncology in the past decade.

“It’s really exciting,” said Allstadt. “It’s good technology and it’s going to change the way we treat cancer in animals.”

Monoclonal antibodies are designed to attach to cancer cells. They work by mimicking the antibodies naturally produced by the body as part of the immune system’s response to germs and other invaders. Used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy, the antibodies are believed to shorten the length of treatment and make it more effective, Allstadt said.

“Together, they create a synergy,” she said. “The chemotherapy kills the cancer cells while the antibodies turn on the immune system.”

The therapy offered at BluePearl is specifically for dogs diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma.  The treatment is administered via IV. Dogs receive a dose twice weekly for four weeks and then every other week for four additional treatments, for a total of 12.

Allstadt said she wouldn’t hesitate to use it for her own dogs.

“My clinical impression is that it works and it’s safe,” she said.