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DENVER/Aug. 3, 2023 – A newly funded study will evaluate the potential of a cancer drug to control tumor growth and improve outcomes for dogs with histiocytic sarcoma, an aggressive and typically fatal canine cancer.

The multi-center clinical trial is being conducted at Michigan State University, University of Florida, University of Wisconsin and Virginia Tech, and funded by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America through Morris Animal Foundation's Donor-Inspired Study program. Histiocytic sarcoma was first described in Bernese mountain dogs in the late 1970s but has since been noted in many other breeds.

“Histiocytic sarcoma is a devastating disease, and traditional chemotherapeutic drugs have shown limited success in improving treatment outcomes, especially with the disseminated form of the disease,” said Dr. Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, Principal Investigator of the study and Professor of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University. “Based on our studies of the molecular pathways driving tumor growth, we now have an opportunity to use a targeted approach in the treatment of this deadly cancer.”

According to Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, the drug trametinib targets and inhibits the molecular pathway responsible for tumor growth. Extensive testing has demonstrated the drug’s effectiveness against canine histiocytic sarcoma cell lines and in mouse models replicating canine tumors, as well as its safety and tolerability in dogs. 

“We are hopeful that the treatment will have a significant and positive impact on the affected dogs,” Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan said. “We are always guided by data and look forward to seeing what the study will show.”

About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation’s mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Denver, it is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding nearly $160 million in more than 3,000 critical studies across a broad range of species. Learn more at

Media Contact: Annie Mehl