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The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center Opens Integrated Oncology Suite
Fueled by $650,000 grant from Blue Buffalo, this expansion enables holistic treatment for pets with cancer and advancements in human health
The Integrated Oncology Service at Ohio State’s Veterinary Medical Center is comprised of a team of cancer doctors with specialties in medical, surgical and radiation oncology, working together with clients and their family veterinarian, from initial consultation and diagnosis, through the prescription and implementation of a treatment plan. There are less than 10 veterinary schools to offer this type of care for patients. Clinical trials are a vital part of the Integrated Oncology Service and are managed by the Blue Buffalo Veterinary Clinical Trials Office (BBVCTO) at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. These clinical trials provide innovative treatments and procedures across all specialty services for pet owners who are interested in enrolling their pets.
Thanks to a generous $650,000 gift from Blue Buffalo, the Integrated Oncology Service has recently completed a renovation of what will now be known as the ‘Blue Buffalo Foundation Integrated Oncology Suite.’ This much needed enhancement of the space included construction of two chemotherapy and minor procedure rooms, a quiet recovery area, and a significantly larger treatment room which result in a higher level of care for pet owners and their pets, as well as elevated learning opportunities for students.
“Our relationship with Ohio State brings to life Blue Buffalo’s philosophy of giving back and supporting innovative studies that enhance the health and well-being of dogs and cats,” said David Petrie, Vice President, Blue Buffalo Philanthropy. “In supporting the renovation of the Integrated Oncology space, we’re able to advance veterinary medicine and improve patient care for both humans and animals.”
Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, recognizes the magnitude of Blue Buffalo’s continued transformational support, “The remarkable generosity of the Bishop family and Blue Buffalo make it possible for us to enhance our ability to offer personalized and comprehensive integrated oncology care. This expansion allows us to provide a higher level of support, as well as increase the amount of veterinary clinical trials and research taking place at the BBVCTO. This groundbreaking work is leading to discoveries for finding cures, extending lives, and improving the quality of life for both our patients and people who are facing these diseases.”
For the last three years, the BBVCTO has enabled incredible collaborations between the College of Veterinary Medicine and human health institutions such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), with the goal to discover new therapies, diagnostic tests and medical devices that will advance the treatment of diseases in both animals and people.
“Our partnership with Blue Buffalo has made it possible for us to provide support to evaluate new diagnostic tests and treatments across a wide spectrum of pet health including cancer, renal failure, heart disease and arthritis,” said Cheryl London, DVM, PhD, director of the Clinical Trials Office and professor of veterinary biosciences. “Clinical trials in veterinary medicine are critical for identifying new approaches to more effectively detect and treat diseases in the pets we love. They also have the added benefit of advancing outcomes for people with similar diseases.”
Partners in health
A new canine clinical trial at the BBVCTO, in collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, seeks to better understand how tumor cells in patients with osteosarcoma (OS) acquire the ability to spread to surrounding tissues, into the blood, and ultimately, localize in the lungs. For the majority of patients, once this cancer spreads to the lungs it becomes fatal.
Osteosarcoma is a bone tumor affecting both humans and dogs. Part of what makes this clinical trial with client-owned dogs so valuable is that approximately 10,000 dogs are diagnosed throughout the United States annually with osteosarcoma versus the roughly 900 cases diagnosed in humans, with the majority of those cases occurring during the teenage growth spurt.
Ryan Roberts, MD, PhD, a physician for the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is excited about the potential for this clinical trial to lead to new treatments for both dogs and children, “This clinical trial is possible because of a collaboration with Dr. London and Dr. Fenger from Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which identified biological pathways important for metastasis of bone cancers. By treating dogs at risk before they relapse with metastasis, we hope to maintain good responses and save dogs’ lives. If it works in dogs, this clinical trial will help pediatric oncologists develop new therapies that prevent the spread of osteosarcoma in kids and teenagers.”
“Understanding more about this process will allow us to identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention and improve outcomes in dogs and children affected by this devastating cancer,” said Joelle Fenger, DVM, PhD, assistant professor, Tenure Oncology, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. “Ultimately, the goal of performing comparative cancer studies is to change how treatments for cancer in humans and companion animals are developed and tested so that these improved approaches can be more successfully moved from the bench to the bedside, thereby impacting outcomes in both humans and animals.”
This collaboration between Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the College of Veterinary Medicine is just one example of naturally occurring cancers in dogs and cats that can serve as models for human disease. Studying this connection through the comparative oncology studies at the BBVCTO allows researchers to identify unique life-saving opportunities for both pets and people.
Linda Becker, owner of 5-year-old Doberman Keela, noticed an enlarged lump on Keela’s leg that was not improving. Linda took Keela to her local veterinarian where she was diagnosed with probable osteosarcoma. Her veterinarian suggested contacting The Ohio State’s Blue Buffalo Veterinary Clinical Trials Office to ask about clinical trials that Keela could potentially qualify for. Linda called that same day and headed to the Veterinary Medical Center the very next morning where Keela was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of her left leg. She enrolled Keela in the clinical trial on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, and her front left leg was amputated just 3 days later. Keela did very well through the trial with little to no problems and continues follow-up evaluations and lung scans every eight weeks.
Linda expresses how unbelievably supportive the doctors and staff at Ohio State have been with both her and Keela, “I have bred and raised Dobermans since 1968 and Keela is my soulmate. I have never had a Doberman like her. I'm thankful for every day of quality time that she and I share thanks to the clinical trial. I would have lost her two years ago without it. I am a retired pediatric nurse and feel very hopeful that this study might help children who are faced with osteosarcoma as well.”
The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a leader in veterinary medical education
One of 30 veterinary colleges in the country, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine is ranked fourth in the nation and includes more than 1,000 faculty, students and staff. The College’s Veterinary Health System is among the largest of its kind, providing care for more than 72,000 canine, feline, equine and farm animal patients each year. Veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians in the BBVCTO work closely with faculty, staff, residents and interns at the Veterinary Medical Center as well as participating veterinary clinics to oversee clinical trials and ensure the highest standard of patient care. The clinical trials office is one of the largest in the country, running between 30 and 40 studies at any given time.
Blue Buffalo dedicated to cancer research and treatment
Since the company was founded in 2002, Blue Buffalo has supported pet oncology studies to gain greater understanding of the causes, treatments and prevention of dog and cat cancers. The company and The Blue Buffalo Foundation have contributed $10 million overall for pet cancer research and financial support to help pet parents with cancer treatment costs. The Wilton, Connecticut-based company was founded by Bill Bishop and his family when their large breed Airedale, Blue, was diagnosed with cancer. Working with their family veterinarian and animal nutritionists, the Bishops developed high-quality foods in honor of the beloved four-legged family member who inspired its creation.