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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

Developing Ways to Improve Cancer Treatment

Cancers are generally treated with the same chemotherapy drugs even though it is known that different cancers respond in different ways to different drugs. This study uses gene signature patterns to determine whether a cancer from an individual dog is more or less sensitive to a specific chemotherapy drug. If the researchers are successful, canine patients could be treated with the drug that would be most effective for their particular cancer.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel L. Gustafson, Colorado State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation; Canine Health Events and Southern Berkshire Golden Retriever Club; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation

Study ID: D13CA-044

Discovering New Therapy Targets for Soft-Tissue Sarcomas

Soft-tissue sarcomas are among the most common canine cancers. This
study defines the molecular and clinical characteristics of these tumors in dogs. The information will help identify genes and pathways that will lead to new targeted therapies for dogs with soft-tissue sarcomas.

Principal Investigator: Dr. William C. Kisseberth, The Ohio State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13CA-073

Establishing a standard-of-care control group for osteosarcoma treatments

Baseline data are an integral component of scientific experiments.
Researchers use baseline data and control groups to eliminate and isolate variables and determine if a new treatment is truly effective. Researchers will enroll 80 client-owned dogs with osteosarcoma that will receive current standard-of-care therapy, which includes surgical removal of the tumor and chemotherapy. Data collected from these dogs ultimately will serve as a control group for future studies of osteosarcoma therapies.

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amy K. LeBlanc, DVM, National Cancer Institute

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16CA-518

Evaluating a Novel Drug for Lymphoma

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers of dogs, accounting for an estimated 25 percent of all canine cancers. more than 8 percent of dogs die of the disease within 2 years because chemoresistance develops. Although all types of dogs can be affected, certain breeds, such as Boxers, rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels, appear to be at greater risk. The researchers will investigate a modified antibody (IMMU-114) that effectively kills canine lymphoma cells but does not appear to result in serious side effects when administered to healthy dogs. They will work to find the best dosage and evaluate its safety and effectiveness in dogs with B-cell lymphoma. If successful, this research might provide a new treatment option for owners of dogs that develop this type of lymphoma. This antibody might also be effective in the treatment of malignant histiocytosis, a cancer commonly found in Bernese mountain Dogs. Therefore, a secondary aim of this project will be to conduct preliminary studies to determine if IMMU-114 could be effective in treating this aggressive disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Barbara Biller, Colorado State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Flat-coated Retriever Foundation; Trudy Lanman; Golden Retriever Foundation; Dr. & Mrs. Martin V. Haspel; The Aura McConnell Foundation, Inc.; Anonymous, for Pixel, Princess & Sage; Rainier Agility Team; The American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc. ; The Bearded Collie Club of America Charitable Trust

Study ID: D12CA-033

Evaluating a Potential Drug for Treating Malignant Tumors

Malignant histiocytic cancers (histiocytic sarcoma and malignant histiocytosis) appear to be increasing in dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-coated Retrievers and Rottweilers seem to have an increased risk, although any breed can be affected. Despite current treatment options, these tumors are locally aggressive, are highly metastatic and spread widely throughout the body. Nearly all cases end in death. The drug rapamycin targets a protein that regulates cell growth. Rapamycin exhibits antibiotic, immunosuppressive and antifungal properties and, in canine cancer cases, offers anti-neoplastic effects against melanoma and osteosarcoma in vitro. The drug is currently being evaluated in another Morris Animal Foundation–funded clinical trial for treating osteosarcoma in dogs. Rapamycin may also be a novel therapy for sensitive malignant histiocytic tumors. Data obtained in this study will support future clinical trials in dogs with histiocytic sarcoma and malignant histiocytosis and will potentially identify differences in highrisk breeds. In addition, this research study will provide training for an undergraduate student.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqueline M. Wypij, University of Illinois

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: The Aura McConnell Foundation, Inc.

Study ID: D10CA-064

Evaluating a Therapeutic Agent That May Inhibit a Protein Associated with Lymphoma

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Although remission can often be achieved with conventional chemotherapy, relapse is common and novel approaches are needed. Survivin, a protein that promotes cell growth and inhibits cell death, is found in many human and canine cancers. A high level of survivin is associated with a worse outcome for dogs with lymphoma. Researchers will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a therapeutic agent designed to inhibit the production of survivin in dogs with lymphoma. They will also evaluate how this agent affects lymphoma cell growth and death. If researchers can establish a biologically effective dose, it would provide a working dosage for future clinical trials that would combine this therapy with standard chemotherapy.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Douglas H. Thamm, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-061

Evaluating Drugs to Treat Hemangiosarcoma

Hemangiosarcoma remains one of the deadliest canine cancers. Despite treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery, dogs rarely live beyond six months after diagnosis. New approaches are needed to improve the survival time of dogs afflicted with this devastating disease. This study will expand on the research team's previous research into a novel class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors that may have the potential to control the growth of hemangiosarcoma. The results will help to clarify abnormalities that contribute to hemangiosarcoma proliferation and may ultimately lead to new treatment options for this aggressive cancer.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stuart C. Helfand, Oregon State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America; Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute (ASHGI); Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research; Anonymous, for Chelsea “parted from me and never parted”; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation; The American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc.; 4th BILBO BASH; Rainier Agility Team; Golden Retriever Foundation

Study ID: D08CA-050

Evaluating the Behavior of Malignant Melanomas

There is currently no long-lasting therapy for treating malignant melanoma in dogs. This study assesses two cell-signaling pathways to determine whether they interact and contribute to the aggressive behavior of malignant canine melanomas. This project provides valuable information on signaling pathways as potential therapeutic targets.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Timothy J. Stein, University of Wisconsin

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13CA-030

Evaluating the effectiveness of an adjunct therapy in dogs with osteosarcoma

Rapamycin is a chemotherapeutic that showed promise in a past study for the treatment of metastatic osteosarcoma in dogs. Subsequent research helped refine the recommended dose of oral rapamycin for canine patients. Using this new information, researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of oral rapamycin as an adjunct, post-surgery therapy to combat metastatic disease in 80 client-owned dogs. Dogs will receive standard-of-care (surgical removal of tumor and carboplatin chemotherapy) followed by four months of rapamycin treatment. Data from this study will be compared to data from a concurrent standard-of-care, control study to assess the effectiveness of rapamycin in dogs with osteosarcoma. This study will be led by the National Cancer Institute and conducted through the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium, a network of 21 veterinary teaching hospitals in North America.

Principal Investigator: Timothy M. Fan, DVM, PhD, University of Illinois

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16CA-519

Evaluating vitamin D supplementation as an adjunct therapy in dogs with cancer

Summary: Researchers will investigate the effectiveness of an oral vitamin D supplement to improve vitamin D levels in dogs, and explore its potential benefit as an adjunct therapy in dogs with cancer. 

Description: Low vitamin D levels are associated with several diseases affecting companion animals, including cancer. Studies in people found tumor cells have vitamin D receptors. Studies also show that vitamin D administration may inhibit tumor cell growth, as well as making cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy. Unlike humans, dogs make insignificant amounts of vitamin D from sun exposure and must acquire vitamin D from their food for optimal health. The most common oral vitamin D supplement, vitamin D3, affects vitamin D levels too slowly and unpredictably to benefit dogs with cancer. A new supplement is needed if vitamin D therapy is to be effective in dogs with cancer. One potential candidate is a form of vitamin D called calcidiol.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert C. Backus, University of Missouri

Sponsors:

Study ID:

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