How great is this? Researchers at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a new form of treatment for cancer in dogs and cats using a combination of gold nanoparticles and laser.
This study is yet another step forward in treatment of cancer in dogs, and is one of many other studies that focuses on new approach of curing companion animals which are currently underway at the Virginia-Maryland college.
The clinical trial consists of testing the use of gold nanoparticles combined with a targeted non-ablative laser system to treat cancerous growths in our loyal pals. So far, it is proving to be very successful, but there is still a lot more research that needs to be done.
This is a completely new treatment that is currently being tested on animals, and the Virginia-Maryland College (VMC) is one of only four veterinary schools in the country taking this approach. It even has a name – AuroLase Therapy, and has been tested on humans in many facilities in the U.S. as well.
AuroLase Therapy was developed by the start-up company Nanospectra Biosciences in Houston, Texas. Dr. Greg Daniel, the head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at VMC, says:
“Clinical research at the veterinary college involves both primary research focused on advancing the treatment and diagnosis of veterinary diseases and translational research in which spontaneous diseases in animals can be used as models of human disease. In the latter, we can provide our companion animal patients with treatment and diagnostic options that are not yet available in mainstream human medicine.”
AuroLase Therapy cancer treatment involves two phases. During the first phase, canine patient is infused with gold nanoparticles that spread throughout the whole body. The selling point here is that those particles will only concentrate around the type of blood vessels that are related to tumors.
36 hours later, the second phase of the treatment will start. By that time, all gold nanoparticles will have passed through the bloodstream except for the ones that stuck around the cancerous growths. That happens because the particles become temporarily trapped within the incomplete walls of the blood vessels that are in solid tumors.
At this point, a non-ablative laser is used. This kind of laser isn’t strong enough to harm the skin or the tissue of the animal, but it does transfer energy to the gold particles. Nanoparticles convert that energy to heat and damage cells of the tumor.
So does it work?
From what the scientists have seen so far – it does. Although this treatment is only in the clinical trial stage at present, it is proving to be quite effective on both dogs and cats. One dog, a Labradoodle named Grayton, was treated for nasal adenocarcinoma 3 years ago after only being given a few months to live. So far, 11-year old Grayton is still enjoying a full and happy life with his owners.
“I’m delighted with the care and service that Grayton has received at the veterinary college. Grayton recently came with us on our annual vacation at the beach. We didn’t know if he would be able to come again, so it was great to have him with us swimming, catching fish and crabs, and doing what dogs do,” said Michael Friedlander, an Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Senior Dean at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Nevertheless, AuroLase Therapy has still a long way to go before it will be deemed effective, because clinical trials involve way too many undefined variables to make a few successful cases applicable to all dogs and breeds. In fact, one thing that makes clinical trials so difficult in veterinary medicine is that they deal with too many different species of animals.
So even though this treatment seems to be working well for certain types of dogs and cats so far, there’s still not enough solid data to predict if it won’t be harmful to others. But modern science seems to be on the right path.