Eureka Alert

The canine transmissible venereal tumor is a contagious cancer that has spread by mating among dogs worldwide. One unique feature of this cancer is that, for unclear reasons, it regresses spontaneously or a few weeks after a single treatment of radiotherapy or chemotherapy. A study published April 9 in the journal Cancer Cell shines a light on this mystery, revealing a key role for the immune system in triggering fast cancer rejection in chemotherapy-treated dogs. Because the canine transmissible venereal tumor shares many similarities with various human cancers, the findings could point to more effective therapeutic strategies.

“We found that activation of the innate immune system and production of certain molecules called chemokines by the host tissue around the tumor is critical to attract immune cells within the tumor and trigger a chain reaction that leads to the rejection of the cancer and its elimination,” says senior author Professor Ariberto Fassati of UCL (University College London). “We hope that this study will encourage the clinical testing of combined approaches to improve immunological therapies against cancer, in animals and humans alike.”

First described in the 1800s, the canine transmissible venereal tumor rapidly grows into a cauliflower-like mass on genitalia, and


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