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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

Searching for New Therapy Targets to Treat Dogs with B-cell Lymphoma

New treatment strategies for canine B-cell lymphoma are desperately needed. One promising target may be inhibition of the B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathway, which is commonly activated in dogs with high-grade B-cell lymphoma. Researchers will investigate the BCR signaling pathway’s role in canine lymphoma cells and its potential as a therapeutic target.  Information gained from this study may be useful in the development of a clinical trial to test new therapies in dogs with B-cell lymphoma. 

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

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15CA-026

Studying How Mast Cell Tumors Spread

Mast cell tumors (MCTs) are the most common skin tumors in dogs, and they are often fatal. Previous studies in dogs with aggressive tumors found that the small microRNA (miR-9) expressed in those tumors was more likely to spread and kill affected dogs. This study provides a molecular framework for understanding how tumors with miR-9 spread.

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

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Danny & Diana Beck

Study ID: D13CA-031

Studying Immune Response to Tumors

Scientific evidence suggests that the growth of tumors may be stimulated by macrophages, which are immune cells that accumulate in high numbers in and around tumors. Previously, macrophages were thought to inhibit tumor growth, but recent studies have shown that in most cases these cells actually stimulate tumor growth by inhibiting the immune system's ability to launch an immune response against the tumor. The researchers for this study hypothesize that if they can chemically deplete the tumor macrophages by removing their precursor cells with a targeted depleting agent, they can reverse tumor immune suppression. This would allow the dog's body to launch an immune response against the tumor, which would hopefully translate to either inhibition of tumor growth or an actual decrease in tumor size.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Steven W. Dow, Colorado State University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Sandra McCrady; Neil and Sylvia Van Sloun, The Van Sloun Foundation; Anonymous, for Hugo; Ms. Ann Campbell; The Dixie Foundation

Study ID: D08CA-155

Targeted Delivery of Chemotherapy to Fight Bone Cancer

Osteosarcoma is the most commonly diagnosed bone tumor in large dogs. As the cancer grows within the bone, it causes debilitating pain that usually can be eliminated only through amputation. Following amputation, many dogs return to near-normal levels of physical activity and quality of life, but many pet owners would appreciate alternative treatments that preserve the limb. Conventional chemotherapy drugs aren’t used because they must be given orally or intravenously, exposing the dog’s entire body to toxic elements. Researchers will design and test the safety and effectiveness of a novel way in which to deliver chemotherapy directly to the site of tumor growth. This therapy may eliminate the need for amputation and reduce toxic exposure to the dog’s organs.

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

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Anonymous, for all the happy three legged dogs out there who don't consider themselves handicapped; Dr. & Mrs. Martin V. Haspel; Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust; The Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation; Anonymous, for Tycho; Cheryl A. Wagner

Study ID: D09CA-083

Targeting a genetic mutation associated with canine bladder cancer

Bladder cancer accounts for approximately two percent of all reported malignancies in dogs and treatment is challenging at best; most dogs eventually succumb to the disease. Recent studies have shown that 75 percent of dogs with bladder cancer have a specific genetic mutation associated with the disease. In humans, drugs targeting this mutation are used to treat a variety of cancers. Researchers will survey archived bladder tumor tissues to determine the prevalence of the mutation, as well as assess cancer cell survival and proliferation associated with the mutation.  Researchers then will test drugs currently available in human medicine on canine cell lines with the mutation with the aim of developing new strategies to treat bladder cancer in dogs.

Principal Investigator: Dawn L. Duval, PhD, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D16CA-071

Testing a Potential Therapeutic Target for Lymphoma

A cure for canine lymphoma remains elusive, in part because of the lack of molecular-targeted therapies that can circumvent chemotherapy resistance. The research team’s previous findings suggest that valosin-containing protein (VCP) holds particular promise as a therapeutic target. In this study, they will test a known inhibitor of VCP to see if this results in preferential killing of lymphoma cells over healthy cells and to determine the critical mechanisms through which the anticancer effect is achieved. Identifying new therapeutic targets for canine lymphoma is the first step toward developing better treatments for this deadly disease.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Marie-Eve Nadeau, University of Montreal, Canada, First Award Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-324

Testing Strategies to Treat Drug-Resistant Hemangiosarcomas

Canine hemangiosarcoma is a common and highly metastatic cancer that affects all breeds of dogs. These tumors are particularly drug resistant, which makes them difficult to treat. The investigators recently identified a more drug-resistant cell population in hemangiosarcoma. These cells appear to be extremely efficient in isolating cancer drugs and preventing them from reaching their targets. The investigators will use several strategies to try to disrupt this process and they will determine whether any of these approaches improves drug responses and diminishes drug resistance. This could lead to more effective treatment of this difficult cancer.

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

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-047

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Summary: Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help identify major nutritional, genetic and environmental risk factors for cancer and other important diseases in dogs.

Description: Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study – the largest prospective, longitudinal study in veterinary medicine in the United States – is following a cohort of more than 3,000 purebred golden retrievers throughout their lifetime. The Foundation, with the help of veterinarians and dog owners, is collecting annual health, diet, environmental and behavior data on enrolled dogs. Results will provide comprehensive data on diseases and other health challenges in dogs, including cancer. 

Principal Investigator:

Sponsors:

Study ID: D10CLP-001

Understanding How Mammary Cancer Develops

All dog breeds are susceptible to mammary cancer. Researchers will evaluate the role of citrullination, a cellular process that is mediated by peptidylarginine deiminases (PAD) enzymes, in canine mammary cancer. PAD activity is usually low in healthy tissues, but it often increases during disease progression, including during breast cancer development. The investigators will study the process of PAD-mediated citrullination in more detail in canine mammary cancer stem cells. They will also evaluate how PAD inhibitors affect the growth and migration of mammary cancer cells in dogs. Increased understanding of the origins of mammary cancer may lead to significant advances in biomarker discovery and more targeted and less toxic therapeutics for canine mammary cancer.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gerlinde R. Van de Walle, Cornell University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14CA-063

Understanding Mechanisms that Contribute to Early Changes in Cancer Stem Cells

Treatment-resistant cancer poses a significant threat to animal health and well-being. Recent evidence from a number of cancer studies suggests the existence of a population of cancer stem cells that give rise to and perpetuate tumor growth. In addition, cancer stem cells are thought to provide a chemotherapy resistant pool of cells that lead to disease recurrence. However, the mechanisms that drive cancer stem cell formation and the acquisition of chemotherapy resistant properties are not well understood. The objective of this research is to identify early changes in the stem cell environment that contribute to cancer stem cell formation. These changes may include altered cell division polarity and the accumulation of genetic damage. Completion of this research will provide important insights supporting the design of future therapeutics to block cancer progression.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alex Davies, Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship, University of California–Davis

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: Anonymous, for Bone “qui faisait tout et qui le fait tout bien”

Study ID: D10MS-906

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