The Canines-N-Kids Foundation announced it has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Petco Foundation (San Antonio, Texas), a founding partner of the new nonprofit, to raise awareness of the tremendous potential that comparative oncology has as an integrated approach to accelerating the development of innovative new pediatric cancer treatments while also helping man’s best friend. The first portion of the funding will be used to raise awareness of the advancements in comparative oncology research and to support the Canines-N-Kids Foundation’s first “Paws for a Cure Summit” of key opinion leaders in veterinary and pediatric oncology, immunology and translational research, June 11-12, in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club.
“Few people are aware that because of the difficulties inherent in designing and implementing pediatric oncology clinical trials, there are scant resources dedicated to R&D for new pediatric treatments for the 16,000 kids diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year,” says Ulrike Szalay, founder and executive director of Canines-N-Kids. “Only three new medicines have been developed for pediatric cancer in the last 30 years, only 4 percent of the NIH’s budget goes to kids’ cancer, and virtually no pharmaceutical funding goes to pediatric cancer research. For the 6 million pet dogs diagnosed with cancer each year, the outlook is no better.”
“The Petco Foundation is honored to support Canines-N-Kids and this new initiative intended to spark lifesaving collaboration and research through funding innovative studies to save both dogs and children,” Petco Foundation Executive Director Susanne Kogut said. “This investment is made possible with funds raised annually in May during our Pet Cancer Awareness campaign in partnership with the Blue Buffalo Foundation.”
Dr. Greg Aune, scientific advisor to Canines-N-Kids, is a practicing pediatric oncologist and cancer researcher at San Antonio’s Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute and a childhood cancer survivor himself.
“Even if kids are lucky enough to survive like I did, the majority suffer significant, even deadly side effects from their treatments for their lifetimes,” Aune said. “We urgently need new approaches to get better medicines to kids.”
The good news is that there is amazing and hopeful science emerging from comparative oncology—treating, studying and beating cancer in man’s best friend when they get sick, as a way also to help doctors accelerate better treatments and a cure for kids with these same cancers.
“Genetically, we are far more similar to dogs than we are to the mice, in which we typically study cancer,” said Dr. Nicola Mason, veterinarian and immunologist who oversees several comparative canine cancer immunotherapy trials at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and is a board member of Canines-N-Kids. “Pet dogs spontaneously develop the same cancers that we do, and they share the same biological behavior and genetic abnormalities. Furthermore, we see a much higher incidence of some cancers, such as osteosarcoma, in dogs compared to children. Our dogs and our children need safe and more effective treatments for these diseases, so studying these cancers and novel treatments for them in dogs will likely expedite the development and use of better treatments for both species. Scientifically, it’s very compelling.”
“We are honored and grateful that the Petco Foundation shares this vision, and through their generous grant will help us begin to put the necessary resources together to fulfill our mission and help both children and man’s best friend,” Szalay said.