ORLANDO, Fla. - It's something humans have been doing for years: immunotherapy. Doctors take out old cells and make them new again. It is said to be a powerful way to fight disease and it may also soon be huge in pet medicine.
Immunotherapy could be available for pets soon, offering animals with cancer a unique way to fight it.
It all starts with a blood sample.
"Basically connects the patient to a machine that filters the blood through the machine," said veterinarian Dr. Angela Mexas. Vets then separate and collect t-cells, which are the kind of cells that fight off disease. "They modify those cells in the lab and expand them into millions and then they put those cells back into the patient and the cells find the cancer in the patient and kill the disease."
Dr. Angela Mexas presented the latest on this research at the Veterinary Meeting and Expo conference held last month in Orlando.
She says this kind of therapy is best for dogs "because those are the kinds that we know the most about in terms of what kinds of cancer they get." She says it's best suited for dogs with blood cancer and dogs that have tried other therapies nad seen little to no results.
It is still in clinical trials right now but Dr. Mexas says the research is promising. If and when it becomes available to the public, it won't be cheap but your dog might only need it once.
"When you reinfuse these activated T-cells into the patient, they go and find the tumor cells but they don’t die after they kill those cells." That means they stay in the immune system forever so they can keep fighting off disease. It's a potential cure for dogs with cancer.