OSU trial could cure dogs' mammary cancer

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Oregon State University is now enrolling dogs with mammary cancer in a new clinical trial for a treatment that eradicates cancer in two ways.

Dogs whose owners are considering standard tumor removal surgery may have the option of a new, guided surgery where the patient receives an intravenous injection of a nanoparticle compound that “lights up” when it comes into contact with cancer cells. This lets the surgeon know exactly which tissue to remove.

In addition, following tumor removal, the surrounding tissue will be irradiated with an infrared laser that causes the nanoparticle compound to heat up and kill the remaining cancer cells. The nanoparticle compound was developed by researchers in the OSU College of Pharmacy and has been found to effectively cure cancer in mice.

The clinical trial was designed for dogs with mammary cancer in order to create a controlled study.

“Whenever you are developing a new treatment you want to start with relatively simple and uniform scenarios and limit variables that could confound your results,” said Dr. Milan Milovancev, a professor and veterinary surgeon participating in the study. 

However, the new procedure may eventually be most beneficial for treating tumors in challenging anatomic areas like the brain and spine, he said.

Dog owners whose animals may be good candidates for the trial can ask their veterinarian for a referral or contact OSU directly to learn more. The phone number is 541-737-4812. Animals may need to make up to six visits to the hospital and the dog may need to stay overnight.

The Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine is a member of a national consortium of veterinary oncology centers, managed by the National Institutes of Health. Members of the consortium conduct clinical trials in dogs with cancer to evaluate new treatments. The overarching goal of the consortium is to gather information that will ultimately benefit human medicine as well as improve treatment for animals.

The Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine also conducts clinical trials in cardiology, diagnostic imaging, surgery and equine medicine. More information about those trials is available at

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