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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Determining the prognostic value of identifying genetic mutations in dogs with lymphoma

In human patients diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, evaluation of the MYC gene for genetic alterations is considered a critical component of patient management. MYC gene alterations in people are associated with shorter remission times. Identifying high-risk patients allows these individuals to receive more aggressive therapy earlier in their disease process. In this study, researchers will screen archived samples collected from dogs with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and determine if MYC gene aberrations correlate with poor prognosis. Findings will help oncologists select the most appropriate and effective treatment to extend the duration and improve quality of life for their canine cancer patients.

Principal Investigator: Matthew Breen, PhD, North Carolina State University

Sponsors: Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust

Study ID: D16CA-023

ACC Cancer Biology Program

The ACC Cancer Biology Program is a multidepartmental and multicollege program designed to train scientists whose focus is on the translation of basic science into the clinical areas of cancer causation and prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics and risk assessment. Admittance to the program is highly competitive and targets applicants with degrees in veterinary medicine who have an interest in obtaining a Ph.D. and conducting research as clinical scientists.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen J. Withrow, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D05CA-500

Advancing Knowledge of the Molecular Mechanisms of Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors account for up to 20 percent of all skin cancers in dogs. The research fellow hopes to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell tumor and to narrow down the genomic regions that are important in the initiation and progression of this cancer. Better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell tumors will provide diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic benefits for dogs with the disease. This Fellowship Training Grant will also provide the researcher with the experience necessary to succeed in a career in veterinary molecular oncology. The fellow’s ultimate goal is to discover better management of animal cancers by conducting an independent clinical research program using molecular oncology approaches.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Hiroyuki Mochizuki, North Carolina State University, Fellowship Training Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-401

Assessing How a Protein Helps Hemangiosarcoma Cells Survive

Canine hemangiosarcoma is a common and highly fatal cancer in dogs. Recent evidence suggests that populations of cancer stem cells give rise to tumors, promote tumor growth and are the main culprits behind drug resistance and disease recurrence. This study examines how a protein expressed by stem cells contributes to the maintenance and survival of hemangiosarcoma stem cells.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson, University of Minnesota

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Rainier Agility Team; Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation; Anonymous; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation

Study ID: D13CA-062

Assessing Immune Stimulation as a Potential Therapy for Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in dogs. Researchers will evaluate a specific form of immune stimulation that uses toll-like receptors. Stimulating these receptors in immune cells usually enhances anticancer immunity; however, stimulating these receptors in cancer cells could accelerate cancer progression. Thus, stimulating toll-like receptors can provide both positive (immune stimulation) and negative (osteosarcoma progression) effects. This balance has not been thoroughly evaluated in dogs with osteosarcoma, so the researchers will study the biological effects of toll-like receptors in canine osteosarcoma to determine this therapy’s potential use in dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Timothy M. Fan, University of Illinois

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-035

Assessing the NDY1 Protein as a Potential Treatment for Mast Cell Cancer

Mast cell tumors account for about 20 percent of all skin tumors in dogs. Some are easily removed, yet others can lead to life-threatening disease. Not-Dead-Yet-1 (NDY1/KDM2B) is a protein that affects the way DNA is packaged in the cell nucleus. The research team has shown that NDY1 can promote unlimited growth of normal mast cells. They also determined that when the levels of NDY1 are decreased, cells from mast cell tumors don’t grow well. These findings suggest that NDY1 may be a molecular target for treating mast cell tumors in dogs. The goal of this study is to understand how NDY1 affects mast cell tumors and to develop strategies for NDY1-targeted treatment.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth A. McNiel, Tufts Medical Center

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-051

Biologic Activity of LLL12 against Canine Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common primary bone tumor in dogs and it accounts for about 85 percent of all bone tumors. More than 10,000 new canine cases are diagnosed each year. It often affects Rottweilers, greyhounds, Scottish deerhounds and golden retrievers. Traditional treatment-which hasn't substantially improved in the last 15 years-involves removal of the tumor, usually through limb amputation, followed by chemotherapy. Despite this aggressive treatment, the majority of patients don't survive longer than two years after treatment because the tumor spreads (metastasizes) to the dog's lungs. Researchers at the Ohio State University have shown that STAT3, a protein important in a tumor cell's ability to metastasize and resist chemotherapy, is essential for cancer cell survival. In this project researchers are evaluating a STAT3 inhibiting compound for its ability to kill OSA tumor cells with potentially fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy. Compounds that target STAT3 represent cutting-edge research that could improve our ability to treat OSA in the future.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Cheryl London, The Ohio State University

Sponsors: Fully Sponsored: Doreen Jakubcak & Michael Malchow

Study ID: D09CA-500

Characterization and Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells in Canine Insulinomas

Despite the availability of multimodal treatment protocols, the prognosis for malignant endocrine pancreas tumors (insulinoma) is poor for most dogs because the tumors are either inoperable or spread to other tissues (metastasis) and thus do not respond to treatments. The identification of novel therapeutic targets is urgently needed to improve the outcome for dogs with malignant insulinoma. Because only a few cancer stem cells can drive tumor growth and metastasis, developing novel therapies specifically targeted at these cells holds promise for improving survival of cancer patients. Researchers will use novel alternative tumor models to test whether drugs inhibit growth of cancer stem cells.

Principal Investigator: Jolle Kirpensteijn, DVM, PhD, at Utrecht University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-503

Controlling the Spread of Hemangiosarcoma Cells

Hemangiosarcoma is a common and fatal cancer that is particularly deadly to Golden Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs. This study examines how molecular signaling helps cancer stem cells undergo self-renewal. Investigators are evaluating the potential to control the activity of hemangiosarcoma stem cells by altering these molecular signals to slow tumor growth and to enhance sensitivity to conventional and targeted therapies.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jong Hyuk Kim, University of Minnesota, Fellowship Training

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Anonymous; American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation; Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America

Study ID: D13CA-400

Curbing tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance in canine

Summary: Researchers will investigate how metabolic processes affect tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance in dogs with hemangiosarcoma and ways to block or disrupt these processes.

Description: Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive and almost uniformly fatal cancer of dogs. Researchers uncovered evidence that a common cellular signaling pathway is associated with aggressive hemangiosarcoma tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance. Signaling pathways are coordinated chemical activities in a cell that collectively control one or more cell functions. Abnormal activation of signals often trigger or facilitate the development of diseases, including cancer. Researchers will investigate how signaling pathways contribute to hemangiosarcoma growth, and if existing drugs can interrupt the process to reduce tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance. Finding a new approach to treat canine hemangiosarcoma is a vital step in improving survival rates in dogs with this aggressive cancer. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson, University of Minnesota

Sponsors: American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc. The Aura McConnell Foundation, Inc. CTW Foundation Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute Anonymous, in memory of my soulmate Chelsea

Study ID: D17CA-059

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