Arizona State University — Canine Cancer Vaccine Trial (Stephen Johnston)

Arizona State University
Award Date:
To be used in support of a canine clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of a multivalent, preventative cancer vaccine.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a multi-year grant of $6,421,402 to Arizona State University to support a canine clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of a multivalent, preventative cancer vaccine. This grant falls within Open Philanthropy's work on scientific research, and was identified through its 2016 NIH Transformative Research Award RFP.

The trial will test the cancer-prevention efficacy of a multi-valent frameshift peptide (FSP) vaccine, developed by Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston, in healthy, middle-aged pet dogs.[1] The trial will be conducted under the direction of Dr. Douglas Thamm, Director of Clinical Research at the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University.[2] The dogs will live their normal lives at home and receive biannual exams with a complete clinical pathology workup, and each owner whose dog develops cancer during the trial will be given a credit toward medical expenses. Cancer will not be induced in dogs in the study, which will only test the effectiveness of the vaccine against naturally occurring cancer.

If successful, this trial would provide strong support for the concept of employing FSP vaccines to prevent cancer in the early stages, possibly lead to a canine cancer vaccine, and could eventually justify human clinical trials for both treatment and prevention. The funding will be split into an initial payment to support trial set-up and recruitment, and if successful, additional payments will be released to fund all aspects of the trial including examination, vaccination, and follow up over five to seven years.

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  1. [1]

    Malfunctions of cellular machinery are part of what turns a normal cell into a cancer cell. These malfunctions include the accumulation of abnormal protein fragments called frameshift peptides (FSPs), which are abundant in cancer. The trial is intended to examine if vaccination with these FSPs can train the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells early, before tumors form and they mutate to evade the immune system. Canines are an effective intermediate step between mice, who are a poor model animal for cancer, and human patients. Canines develop cancer at a rate similar to humans, are exposed to many of the same environmental cancer risks as humans, and have lifespans that make it possible to conduct informative cancer trials within 5-7 years.

  2. [2]

    Statistics for the trial will be analyzed by Dr. Jens Eickoff a Senior Scientist in the Department of Biostatistics & Medical Informatics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.