Kids & Dogs’ Shared Cancers: Industry Leaders Stress Collaboration to Speed Drug Development at Canines-N-Kids’ Paws for a Cure Symposium
In search of a cure, several hundred leaders representing different aspects of the veterinary, pediatric, oncology, and the pharma industry came together for the Canines-N-Kids Foundation’s Paws for a Cure Research Symposium co-hosted by Merck at its Research Laboratories in Boston to discuss ways to accelerate cancer drug development for cancers that children and canines both develop. Canines-N-Kids Foundation is a nonprofit committed to promoting research that integrates efforts for the benefit of both kids and dogs with cancer.
“Every year 16,000 precious children and six million pet dogs are diagnosed with remarkably similar cancers, but resources to find a cure have been limited. The symposium is finding ways to speed progress by bringing parallel fields of veterinary and pediatric cancer research together,” explained Ulrike Szalay, founder and executive director, Canines-N-Kids. “Through collaboration, we know it’s possible to find new and better medicines and one day a cure for kids and our canine best friends.”
“At Merck we are dedicating significant resources to developing innovative oncology medicines that will change outcomes for all patients, including children and animals,” said Michael Rosenzweig, D.V.M., Ph.D., executive director, Merck Research Labs. “As a global leader in the animal health industry and a pioneer in immuno-oncology, Merck is proud to co-host the symposium and promote the integration of pediatric and canine research.”
Participants discussed the state of the art in our understanding of canine cancer, genomics and immunology, as well as ongoing and growing clinical research collaborations between veterinary and medical oncologists in a wide range of shared childhood and canine cancers (including osteosarcoma, brain cancers, lymphoma and leukemia). Experts also explored promising new therapeutic approaches and imaging modalities with translational potential to human cancer patients, particularly children.
According to Susanne Kogut of Petco Foundation who partners with Blue Buffalo Foundation for Pet Cancer Research and provided title sponsorship: “It is a sad fact that millions of pet dogs are diagnosed with cancer, and this is a major priority for us. We support new approaches to save lives. If canine cancer patients can benefit from cutting edge cancer treatment while also providing information to doctors to solve difficult human and childhood cancers, that’s exciting and important.”
A major focus of the discussion was the infrastructure to support comparative cancer research, integrating resources of academic medical and veterinary centers, private veterinary oncology specialty clinics, and pediatric cancer research consortia. According to Susan Braun, CEO of the V Foundation, also a title sponsor, and whose Canine Comparative Oncology Consortium seeks to advance comparative cancer research: “As a major funder in oncology, we see great tremendous opportunity in bringing canine patients into the research and drug development continuum to solve difficult cancers in adults and kids.”
With support from title sponsors, the V Foundation and the Petco Foundation in partnership with the Blue Buffalo Foundation, the symposium convened experts to discuss advancing research in pediatric cancer treatments, including how to use comparative approaches to make progress in this field. Attendees included pediatric oncologists; veterinary oncologists; translational research scientists in academia and in industry; pharma and biotechnology professionals in preclinical research, drug development, oncology and animal health; as well as nonprofits and other funders.
Participants heard from peers and experts about: the state of the art in comparative and novel translational cancer research; ongoing preclinical, translational and clinical projects leveraging the canine patient model; and the most promising prospects for future scientific exploration, collaboration and funding. Keynotes by Michael Kastan, M.D. Ph.D., Pediatric Oncologist, Executive Director of the Duke Cancer Institute, and Lee J. Helman, M.D., Pediatric Oncologist, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, set the stage for a number of panels and presentations by top experts.
Other key event funders included: Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, PhRMA, American Cancer Society, the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Boehringer Ingleheim Animal Health, Anivive and Applied Biomath.
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