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Research Spotlight

New method for cancer prognosis could extend life in cats

Following on from his successful research looking at immunohistochemistry markers for squamous cell carcinoma diagnostics in cats, Prof. John Munday is now looking at new potential treatment options for these cats.

Oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are one of the most common cancers in cats. These cancers respond poorly to current treatments and most affected cats survive less than a month after diagnosis.

Recent research has shown that the growth and progression of many types of cancers is influenced by the renin angiotensin system (RAS). Prof. Munday’s current research proposes to treat cats with inoperable SCCs using a combination of drugs to block multiple pathways within the RAS.

The project is in collaboration with researchers at a human cancer research centre. These researchers have recently treated a small number of patients with inoperable cancers (including an oral SCC) using RAS blockade and treatment consistently either prevented tumour growth or resulted in partial tumour regression.

This is the first time that multi-drug RAS blockade has been investigated as a cancer treatment in cats. This initial study will focus on demonstrating the safety of this treatment in five carefully monitored cats. However, if inhibition of cancer growth is observed, these results will be used to support further studies including larger numbers of cats.

Treating cancer by blocking RAS has a number of advantages. Firstly, unlike other cancer treatments, RAS blockade is expected to result in only mild side effects.

Secondly, treating cancer using RAS blockade will also be cheaper than conventional therapy and will be able to be administered by clients without the safety concerns associated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Overall, the proposed study has the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment in cats.