Within the last six months a new treatment has come online for lymphoma in both dogs and cats. It is called ImmuneFx, and in essence it uses the pet’s own cancer cells to create a vaccine, which is then injected into the pet, causing its own immune system to destroy the cancer.
This form of treatment has been in the research phase for at least 20 years, but only recently has an actual therapeutic protocol been approved by the FDA. The company that has pioneered and licensed this therapy is Morphogenesis, Inc, and they are located right here in Tampa.
The protocol for treatment involves surgery to obtain a tissue biopsy of the tumor. In a case like lymphoma, we would take out an enlarged lymph node. In a solid mass cancer, such as a fibrosarcoma, we would remove as much of the effected tissue as possible.
That harvested tissue is then sent to the company for processing. From the tissue provided they “infect” the cancer cells with DNA from a specific type of bacteria. After that they grow a homogenous culture of these “infected” cancer cells and produce a serum that contains these infected cancer cells.
We then take that serum and administer it to the pet. Inside the patient the bacterial DNA that has been added to the cancer cells then programs the immune system to eliminate these cells and any like them. This tricks the body into attacking the cancer cells at all levels.
Cancers Affected and Treatment Outcomes
To date the company has successfully treated over 20 different types of solid and liquid cancers, and research is continuing on many others.
The cancers treated successfully to date include:
- Feline Fibrosarcoma
- Canine Hemangiosarcoma
- Canine Nerve Sheath Sarcoma
- Canine Mammary Tumor
- Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma
- Canine Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Canine B Cell Lymphoma
- Canine T Cell Lymphoma
- Feline T Cell Lymphoma
- Canine Fibrosarcoma
- Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
- Feline Chondrosarcoma
- Canine Hemangiopericytoma
- Canine Osteosarcoma
- Equine Melanoma
- Canine Transitional Cell Carcinoma
- Canine Adenocarcinoma
- Canine Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
- Canine Osteochondrosarcoma
Success rates depend on many factors, including:
- Type of cancer or tumor being treated
- Presence or absence of concurrent therapies, such as chemo
- Stage of cancer – earlier in the cancer process has a much better prognosis
- Overall health of the patient, including immune system status
In general, long term survival rates range from less than 30% to well over 80%. That may or may not sound like great success to you, but you have to keep in mind there is little or no side effects to the treatment, and once the biopsy surgery is over, the treatments are very easy for the pet. Treatment consists of eight separate injections given over a period of time that varies depending on the cancer being treated. For lymphoma, it’s one injection daily for eight weeks.
So if your pet is diagnosed with a cancer that carries an otherwise poor prognosis, this gives us one more arrow in our quiver of treatments to help give them a longer and better quality of life.
Edit: At Acupet Veterinary Care we don’t service the equine industry. However, ImmuneFX is available for several equine cancers, as well, including Equine Melanoma.