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Possible new lymphoma treatment on the horizon

Goldne Retrievers are among many breeds known for lymphoma.
Goldne Retrievers are among many breeds known for lymphoma.

The February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research contains an article on a possible new therapy for dogs with lymphoma.

From Purdue University, and partly funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, a study headed by Michael O.Childress DVM MS looked at folate and lymphoma. Folate is a B vitamin that is important in cell functions including DNA and RNA synthesis. Since unusual cell replication is part of cancer, this was a reasonable area to look at for treating cancers.

Ten dogs with lymphoma contributed lymph nodes for the study and twenty archived lymph nodes from earlier biopsies were also looked at for the analysis. The goal was to search for folate receptors with the eventual plan being to target those receptors and destroy cancer cells. The immunohistochemical analysis (staining of cells evaluated under a microscope) did not show folate receptors but a secondary testing using nuclear scintigraphy (think of this as a radioactive dye designed to connect up with folate receptors) in the ten study dogs showed folate receptors at or in the cancers in six of the dogs.

Five of the six dogs with detectable folate receptors then received chemotherapy specifically aimed at those folate receptors in the cancer cells. Results showed some promise with minimal side effects. Future research will look at better detection of folate receptors in cancers and fine tuning ways to attack those cells via specific chemotherapy. Studies are also being done on transitional cell carcinoma, which is a bladder cancer in dogs, with the use of folate receptor targeting chemotherapy.