Veterinary medicine is taking a page from human oncology when it comes to treating cancer in pets. One such groundbreaking technology is immunotherapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells in the body.
One form of immunotherapy involves monoclonal antibodies, which are genetically manipulated molecules that attach to specific proteins — or antigens — on the outside of cancer cells.
Recently, canine monoclonal antibody therapy has been approved to treat lymphoma in dogs. Monoclonal antibodies are delivered intravenously, then hone into and attach to specific antigens on lymphoma cells. There, these antibodies signal the dog’s own immune system to destroy the cancer cells.
With over 25 percent of dogs poised to develop cancer, treatments like immunotherapy may give some of them a new lease on life.