Cats afflicted with a deadly type of cancer may soon have renewed hope, thanks to a promising new treatment being explored at Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).
A team of Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers are investigating the use of porphysome nanotechnology combined with light therapy to treat oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats.
Accounting for roughly eight to 10 per cent of all cancers diagnosed, oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral cancer in cats, Morris Animal Foundation reports. The tumours make eating and drinking difficult and are painful.
Research lead Michelle Oblak, DVM, DVSc., DACVS, a veterinary surgeon oncologist and professor in OVC’s Department of Clinical Studies, hopes the findings will improve quality of life (QoL) and outcomes for cats diagnosed with the disease.
“Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a devastating disease in cats with limited treatment options,” she says. “This study has the potential to unlock a new non-surgical option for cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma.”
The cancer spreads locally and imbeds deeply into the oral tissue, making complete surgical removal rare. Once diagnosed, the average survival time for feline patients is three months.
“I cannot stress how desperately new treatments are needed for this terrible cancer,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s vice-president of scientific operations, Kathy Tietje, PhD, MBA. “If successful, this new treatment could have a major impact on the lives of hundreds of cats diagnosed with this aggressive tumour each year.”
Cancer is a leading cause of death in senior cats. Since 1962, Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 300 cancer studies and invested nearly US$40 million into cancer research.
The OVC study has also received funding from Blue Buffalo and Pet Valu.