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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 a More Effective Treatment for Canine Lymphoma

This study evaluates the efficacy of two antibodies that could treat canine B-cell lymphoma. The investigators theorize that either antibody alone will kill lymphoma cells and delay tumor progression but that the combined effect of the two antibodies will be more effective as a treatment for dogs with lymphoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jaime F. Modiano, University of Minnesota

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Rainier Agility Team; Anonymous; Tibetan Terrier Health and Welfare Foundation; American Spaniel Club Foundation; American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation

Study ID: D13CA-033

Determining Factors That Cause Chemotherapy Resistance

Canine histiocytic sarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer that is almost always fatal. The disease affects primarily Bernese mountain dogs, flat-coated retrievers and rottweilers, but others are predisposed as well. Despite rigorous efforts to identify genetic abnormalities underlying this disease, few treatment advances have been made. The researchers will focus on gene expression patterns that are associated with this cancer's resistance to chemotherapy. They intend to develop a practical test that can be used to guide future drug development for the treatment of canine histiocytic sarcoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Nikolaos G. Dervisis, Michigan State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America; The Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research

Study ID: D08CA-308

Determining How Dietary Interventions Can Reduce Cancer Risk

Cancer remains one of the most devastating diseases in dogs, and obesity may play a role in pre-cancer processes. The fellow will evaluate the effects of black and navy beans on inflammatory biomarkers, gut hormone expression and metabolism in overweight dogs undergoing weight loss. The results will provide insight into the mechanisms by which dietary bean intake can reduce canine obesity. The goal of this research is to reduce the risk of cancer in dogs by using dietary interventions that inhibit metabolic and inflammatory pathways associated with the development of cancer. This Fellowship Training Grant will support the completion of the PhD portion of the researcher’s graduate training and allow her to pursue a career goal of becoming a clinician and small animal nutritionist and conducting research into the prevention and control of chronic diseases.

Principal Investigator: Genevieve M. Forster, Colorado State University, Fellowship Training Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-402

Determining How Overexpression of miR-9 Helps Osteosarcoma Spread

Fewer than 50 percent of dogs with osteosarcoma live longer than one year after amputation and chemotherapy, and no significant advances in treatment or survival rates have occurred in the past 20 years. Researchers will evaluate how overexpression of a small microRNA (miR-9) influences the development of canine osteosarcoma, particularly how miR9 helps osteosarcoma cells spread. This project will characterize a key factor associated with osteosarcoma’s aggressive behavior in dogs, thereby providing a critical platform for the development of more effective therapies that block the effects of miR9. The ultimate goal of this work is to improve the survival of dogs affected by this cancer.

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

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-057

Determining Risk Factors for Lymphoma

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs and sadly is fatal in most patients. Though the underlying causes of the disease aren’t understood, exposure to industrial pollutants and commonly used herbicides may increase a dog’s risk of lymphoma. Research shows that humans exposed to environmental chemicals have a higher risk for developing lymphoma, and genetic defects in the enzymes that remove environmental chemicals from the body increase this risk. This study will determine whether dogs with genetic defects in an important detoxification enzyme, called GSTT, are more likely to develop lymphoma. The results will provide insight into the genetic and environmental risk factors for lymphoma in dogs.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lauren A. Trepanier, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Delaware County Kennel Club; Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research; Gary and Ann Goodman; Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, Inc.; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation; Golden Retriever Foundation

Study ID: D09CA-029

Determining Whether Probiotics Reduce the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Dogs receiving chemotherapy drugs as a treatment for cancer can suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort, including severe diarrhea, lack of appetite, nausea and weight loss. These side effects may discourage the dog’s owner from continuing chemotherapy or, if they are severe enough, may require the anticancer drug protocol to be altered in a way that minimizes its effectiveness. The investigators will evaluate whether oral probiotic supplementation can prevent or minimize adverse gastrointestinal side effects associated with chemotherapy. Giving patients a natural, nondrug supplement, such as probiotics, may decrease the severity or frequency of gastrointestinal toxicity and inflammation, improve nutritional health and improve the overall quality of life for dogs undergoing chemotherapy.   

Principal Investigator: Dr. Korinn E. Saker, North Carolina State University, Pilot Study

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-831

Developing a New Delivery System for Lymphoma Treatment

Blood cell lymphomas affect about 30 of every 100,000 dogs. Current treatment consists of a combination of cytotoxic drugs that induce remission in about 75 percent of patients. However, most dogs relapse within six to nine months of diagnosis. In human medicine, rituximab, an antibody-targeting drug, has substantially improved survival times for people with various types of B-cell lymphoma. Rituximab cannot be used in dogs, however, because it is a foreign protein and will therefore be rapidly destroyed by the dog’s immune system. Furthermore, rituximab does not recognize or bind to canine B cells. The researchers in this study will use a novel system to develop a canine-derived antibody fragment similar to rituximab that will recognize canine cancer cells and can be used repeatedly in dogs to specifically target B cells. Development of such a canine-derived antibody fragment may then allow targeted delivery of cytotoxic agents to the malignant B cells, thereby allowing for increased chemotherapy doses, reduced side effects and improved outcome for dogs with B cell lymphoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Nicola Mason, University of Pennsylvania

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: The Emma-Jolie Cancer Foundation for Animals; The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America Foundation, Inc.; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation, Inc.; Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, Inc.; Golden Retriever Foundation; Anonymous, for Pixel; The Johnson-Stillman Family Foundation; American Spaniel Club Foundation

Study ID: D12CA-026

Developing a New Tool to Study Viral Infections and Cancer in Dogs

In humans, a powerful immunologic reagent called a tetramer is standardly used to visualize changes in the body’s killer T-cells. These cells respond to immunologic challenges and are critical to the body’s immune system. Current knowledge of T-cell behavior in dogs could be significantly advanced with the development of a dog-specific tetramer. Researchers will work to construct the first canine tetramer, which would then be used in the development of vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer in dogs.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paul R. Hess, North Carolina State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15CA-015

Developing a Noninvasive Technique to Determine Brain Tumor Type

This study uses an advanced magnetic resonance imaging technique—magnetic resonance spectroscopy—to evaluate noninvasive methods of determining brain tumor type in dogs. Investigators expect that this technology will improve management of brain tumor cases and replace invasive tissue sampling in the brain and elsewhere in the body.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer M. Gambino, Mississippi State University, Pilot Study

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13CA-821

Developing a Way to Predict Length of Disease-Free Intervals for Dogs with Bone Cancer

 

Osteosarcoma accounts for 85 percent of all primary bone tumors in dogs. It is generally a highly aggressive cancer that metastasizes to the lungs. With standard treatment, outcomes are highly variable and difficult to predict. About 25 percent of patients survive for less than three months, 50 percent survive for about a year, and only about 20 percent live longer than two years. The researchers have shown that in other canine cancers, DNA copy number aberrations (called CNAs) are significantly associated with the duration of disease-free intervals in patients treated with specific therapies. In this study, they will use existing samples from dogs with osteosarcoma that were previously treated with a clinical trial protocol to identify CNAs associated with longer disease-free intervals. The researchers hope to develop a molecular test that could predict how long a dog will be disease-free after going through standard therapy for osteosarcoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew Breen, North Carolina State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-055

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