UC Davis Veterinary Clinical Trials

VACCS: Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study

Help us prevent cancer in dogs with a new vaccine!

Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs, accounting for approximately 30% of all deaths. Certain breeds have much higher likelihoods of cancer than others. “Tumor antigens” are proteins that can be recognized by the immune system as foreign and result in the attack of tumors by the immune system. Researchers have identified a series of new tumor antigens that appear to be produced in multiple types of cancer very early in tumor development and are produced in cancers from many species (humans, dogs and mice). Vaccination of mice with these antigens can delay or prevent multiple types of cancer without side effects. The purpose of this study is to determine whether vaccination with these novel tumor antigens is capable of reducing the likelihood of cancer in dogs.

Preventative vaccine study

Understanding Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers

Help us find out what genes cause corneal endothelial dystrophy in different breeds!

Corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) is a devastating disease in dogs that can result in blindness and severe ocular pain from secondary complications. The endothelial cells comprise the most inner aspect of the cornea and are responsible for maintaining a proper fluid balance. This function is critical to ensuring that the cornea remains transparent for vision. In many animals, including dogs, corneal endothelial cells have a very limited capacity to regenerate following injury. In canine patients with CED, the endothelial cells degenerate until the cells still remaining can no longer function properly. This results in swelling of the cornea (edema) which results in decreased vision as well as formation of small fluid-filled blisters (bullae) on the cornea which can rupture and cause ocular discomfort. There are palliative treatments such as hypertonic saline to decrease corneal bullae formation but the only definitive treatment for this condition is a corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty). Unfortunately, corneal transplants are rarely performed in canine patients with CED due to the expense of the surgery and follow-up care, relatively high risk of complications, and lack of appropriate donor tissue. Several dog breeds, including Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers, are seen more commonly for CED in comparison to other breeds. This observation suggests that this disease may have a genetic component. A similar condition called Fuch’s endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) exists in humans and several genes associated with FECD have been identified. We propose to identify the region of the dog genome associated with CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. In order to do this, we will perform thorough eye examinations and use non-invasive advanced imaging techniques to examine Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers with CED and age-matched control dogs. We will collect blood from these dogs to obtain DNA. The entire canine genome will be evaluated for an association with CED. This work will be used to identify the gene(s) responsible for this condition in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. The ultimate goal will be to develop a genetic test for CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers and possibly other breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, with an increased risk of CED.

Genetic Study