The future looks promising of diabetic dogs. Researchers in Spain have used gene therapy to successfully regulate Type 1 diabetes in dogs for more than four years, without hypoglycemia or other risks associated with conventional treatments. This study was published in the May 2013 issue of the journal Diabetes.
In a single treatment session, the team injected five diabetic laboratory beagles with glucokinase and insulin genes, both critical in maintaining normal levels of blood glucose, a type of sugar which is a primary source of energy for the body. In healthy animals, one of the roles of glucokinase is to control insulin production by the pancreas in response to changing levels of glucose. Insulin induces the movement of glucose front he bloodstream into the cells of the body. The researches “infected” cells in the dogs’ skeletal muscle with the two genes by using a vehicle for DNA transmission called a vector. A vector consists of a nonpathogenic virus , which will not cause disease. By injecting this vector into skeletal muscle, they have chosen cells that do not divide, and thus the genes can be administered on time and remain undisturbed for many years, where they do their job maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Dogs treated with only one gene did not achieve the same results as with the two genes.
The next plan is to test the protocol on family-owned dogs with Type 1 diabetes. It will enable them to learn how to adjust the treatment for dogs of various breeds and sizes. It will give them the opportunity to monitor the results unreal life situations.
Once the procedure is fine tuned in companion dogs, the hope is to move onto human patient trials. Researchers are encouraged by the findings so far, and optimistic for it’s use in both species, being that diabetes is on the rise in both dogs and people.
Company developing first of its kind canine lymphoma medicine
There is fresh hope on the horizon for dogs diagnosed with lymphoma, one of the most common canine cancers. VDC-1101, a targeted medicine designed to treat canine lymphoma specifically, is currently in development by Veterinary Emerging Technologies Development Corporation, or VetDC, out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Clinical trials had had impressive results thus far.
Why this is such great news is that typically, veterinarians use older generic human chemotherapy medicines to treat dogs and cats with lymphoma, adjusting dosages to fit their patients,etc. It is not ideal, and relapses often result sooner than we would like. The goal with this type of drug development is to dramatically increase survival times, giving pets many good years, instead of a few months.
VetDC secured the veterinary rights for the cancer medication from a company developing human cancer medication, Gilead Sciences, when they no longer wanted to pursue the drug development further. By that time, they had already completed a large number of preclinical trials in dogs with lymphoma, showing tumor reduction in 80% of patients, as well as a high level of safety and tolerability. Gilead was not looking to manufacture a veterinary medicine, so VetDC took over from there.
To date, more that 70 dogs have received the drug, which works by inducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in malignant lymphoid cells while leaving remaining healthy cells untouched. The hope is for it to become the first Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine to treat canine lymphoma, and that it might be available for dogs within a year. They are also conducting a study in cats.