Lymphoma is the most common malignancy of dogs representing up to 25% of diagnosed cancers. Dogs often develop an aggressive form of lymphoma that is rarely curable, with most unfortunately succumbing to disease within 12 months of diagnosis despite best-available chemotherapies. Dr. Wilson will develop a new treatment to re-train the dog’s own immune system to attack the most common type of canine lymphoma, B-cell lymphoma. In order to accomplish this they will obtain a small number of circulating white blood cells, called T cells, from the blood of affected dogs and insert a gene that will cause the T cell to express a receptor which recognizes the tumor “fingerprint”. After docking with the lymphoma, the T cell will be triggered to mount an immune response against the tumor cells with the specific fingerprint. This therapy could be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Their preliminary data demonstrate that it is possible to genetically modify T cells. Further, they have been able to successfully harvest and grow T cells in the laboratory and return them safely to the dog. These infused cells can be found in the blood and tumor weeks after infusion, showing that it is possible for these cells to survive in the dog. If successful this study will be the first to develop an “in-dog” T-cell therapy targeting a tumor that has historically thought to be untreatable.
Dr. Heather M. Wilson, DVM, Texas A&M Research Foundation