New Treatment for Lymphoma and Other Pet Cancers

A vaccine induced fibrosarcoma in a cat
Fibrosarcoma in a cat

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 Technology

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.

Mushroom Compounds for Cancer

Up until just recently, when a man’s best friend is diagnosed with cancer, such as hemangiosarcoma, even if the dog received chemotherapy treatment, the prognosis was extremely guarded for living a long, full life. Hemangiosarcoma is relatively common in dogs and one of the most mystifying and exigent diseases of veterinary medicine. At this point, this cancer, which presents itself as a tumor of the cells that sheathe the blood vessels, remains incurable. Unfortunately, over the past two to three decades, there has not been any significant advancement in the standard of care for dogs with hemangiosarcoma and early detection is rare due to the lack of effective testing for the disease. By the time the tumors have become large enough to detect, the cancer has already progressed to advanced stages.

Within the past few years, however, there have been promising findings for owners of dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, according to a study conducted by Jennifer Reetz and Dorothy Cimino Brown, two faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study revealed that canines who were treated with a compound which was derived from the mushroom Coriolus versicolor, exhibited the longest survival times that have ever been reported for canines suffering from hemangiosarcoma. The compound is usually called Coriolus PSP, or PSP for short.

Increasing Cancer Survival Times with the Coriolus Mushroom

According to the study results, the median survival time of the dogs that were tested increased as the PSP dose increased, and the longest median survival times that were reported to date were linked to the dogs that were on the highest dose of PSP. In other words, the higher the dose of this mushroom compound supplement, the longer the canines survived with the cancer. Additionally, the dogs receiving the highest doses exhibited slower progression of the cancer in comparison to the dogs receiving chemotherapy.

These findings are not only hopeful for canines, but also provide a ray of hope for human cancer patients, as well. There could be a holistic treatment and a feasible alternative to chemotherapies which are currently used to treat cancer. While Hemangiosarcoma is the only cancer that is an almost exclusive canine disease, angiosarcoma, a rare tumor in humans that is similar, occurs with exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and vinyl chloride in the workplace (normally found in tire and rubber plants). An even rarer angiosarcoma, or cancer of the skin, occurs in only a tiny fraction of women who are receiving high doses of radiation treatment for cancer.

Coriolus mushrooms
Harvested Coriolus mushrooms

Chinese medicine has been using the Coriolus versicolor mushroom (Yun-zhi mushroom) for over 2,000 years now. Standardized, purified polysaccharopeptide (PSP) is the compound that is found in the mushroom which is considered to provide immune-boosting and liver detoxifying properties. Just in the past twenty years, studies have theorized that this compound also exhibits tumor-fighting properties. However, unfortunately, the trials that have been conducted to date have lacked any significant evidence of anti-tumor properties in humans.

While the Yun-zhi mushroom has been known in China for centuries, the Western world only recently became aware of it. When studies exposed the unbelievable chemotherapy and radio-therapy reducing properties that the mushroom demonstrated, clinical trials in the Western part of the world ensued. In random double-blind clinical trials, humans who were undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments took Yun-zhi for two months. These human subjects experienced tremendous improvement in radiation and chemo side effect symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, vomiting, fatigue and sweating. Yun-zhi also assisted in making the white blood cell of these patients more stabilized. Overall results of treatment revealed an efficacy rate of 83% to 86%.

Clinical Cancer Research using Yun-Zhi

We just recently received an email from a Veterinary Clinical Research Nurse at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine stating that they were currently in their second clinical trial with the supplement from the mushroom compound called I’m Yunity. This will be a randomized, controlled, single study that will compare the effects of the supplement to standard care chemotherapy. Most likely, another study will not be published for at least another couple of years, because, as Rene Newman, CVT from the Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center stated, “We have a long way to go to get to our n of 100.”

So, while dog owners may still be left in the dark regarding a cure for hemangiosarcoma, the Yun-zhi mushroom supplement gives us a glimmer of light. If we can prolong the time that we have with our cancer-stricken canine friends for several months (or maybe even up to a year) with the assistance from the natural supplement derived from the Coriolus versicolor, we will have more time to accept their fate while we spend quality time and provide them with the best final months of their life that we possibly can.