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Objective—To evaluate the usefulness of a PCR-based telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay for detecting telomerase activity in cells from a canine transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) cell line and, ultimately, in the urine of dogs with TCC.

Animals—11 dogs with histologic or cytologic evidence of TCC, 10 dogs with benign lower urinary tract disease, and 9 healthy dogs.

Procedures—Telomerase activity was initially evaluated in cells from canine TCC (K9TCC) and telomerase-negative (WI-38) cell lines. Following assay optimization, telomerase stability was evaluated at various storage durations and temperatures. Urine samples were then obtained prospectively from study dogs.

Results—Telomerase activity was detected in the K9TCC cell line. The TRAP assay detected telomerase activity in as few as 10 K9TCC cells alone and as low as 2% of a total cell population in K9TCC and WI-38 mixing experiments. A loss of telomerase activity was detected with increasing urine storage durations at various temperatures. Telomerase activity was clearly detected in samples collected from 10 of 11 dogs with TCC, 2 of 10 dogs with benign lower urinary tract disease, and none of the 9 healthy dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The TRAP-based assay detected telomerase activity in the canine TCC cell line and revealed that the telomerase ribonucleoprotein complex was inherently unstable at various storage durations and conditions. Telomerase activity was also detectable in urine samples obtained from dogs with TCC, which suggested the TRAP assay may be useful in diagnosing TCC in dogs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research



To evaluate the efficacy of doxorubicin for treatment of histiocytic sarcoma (HS) in dogs, whether administered as the sole treatment or as an adjunct to surgery or radiation therapy.


31 client-owned dogs with localized or disseminated HS examined between 2003 and 2017.


Medical records were reviewed retrospectively, and data were collected. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate time-to-progression from the date of first doxorubicin administration and survival time from initial diagnosis. Factors that could be associated with poorer outcomes with doxorubicin treatment were analyzed with log-rank tests.


The objective response rate (ORR) was 26%. When stratified by disease status, dogs with localized and disseminated forms experienced 43% and 21% ORRs, respectively. Median time to progression after initiating doxorubicin treatment (n = 30 dogs) was 42 days. Median survival time from initial diagnosis to death (n = 29 dogs) was 169 days. Complete responses were obtained in only 2 dogs that had localized disease and received multimodality therapy.


Benefits of doxorubicin administration in canine HS are modest, with a limited ORR and delay in tumor progression, and are comparable to effects attained with other single-agent regimens.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine the frequency of clinically relevant abnormalities missed by failure to perform a blood smear evaluation in a specific subset of dogs receiving chemotherapy and to compare automated and manual neutrophil counts in the same population

Design—Retrospective case series

Animals—50 dogs receiving chemotherapy with a total nucleated cell count > 4,000 nucleated cells/μL.

Procedures—50 blood smears were evaluated for abnormalities that have strong potential to change the medical plan for a patient: presence of blast cells, band neutrophils, nucleated RBCs, toxic change, hemoparasites, schistocytes, and spherocytes. Automated and manual neutrophil counts were compared.

Results—Blood smears from 10 (20%) patients had ≥ 1 abnormalities. Blast cells were identified on 4 (8%) blood smears, increased nucleated RBCs were identified on 5 (10%), and very mild toxic change was identified on 2 (4%). Correlation coefficient of the neutrophil counts was 0.96. Analysis revealed a slight bias between the automated and manual neutrophil counts (mean ± SD difference, −0.43 × 103/μL ± 1.10 × 103/μL)

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In this series of patients, neutrophil count correlation was very good. Clinically relevant abnormalities were found on 20% of the blood smears. An automated CBC appears to be accurate for neutrophil counts, but a microscopic examination of the corresponding blood smear is still recommended; further studies are needed to determine whether the detection or frequency of these abnormalities would differ dependent on chemotherapy protocol, neoplastic disease, and decision thresholds used by the oncologist in the ordering of a CBC without a blood smear evaluation.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate the safety and efficacy of a vaccine containing plasmid DNA with an insert encoding human tyrosinase (ie, huTyr vaccine) as adjunctive treatment for oral malignant melanoma (MM) in dogs.

Animals—111 dogs (58 prospectively enrolled in a multicenter clinical trial and 53 historical controls) with stage II or III oral MM (modified World Health Organization staging scale, I to IV) in which locoregional disease control was achieved.

Procedures—58 dogs received an initial series of 4 injections of huTyr vaccine (102 μg of DNA/injection) administered transdermally by use of a needle-free IM vaccination device. Dogs were monitored for adverse reactions. Surviving dogs received booster injections at 6-month intervals thereafter. Survival time for vaccinates was compared with that of historical control dogs via Kaplan-Meier survival analysis for the outcome of death.

Results—Kaplan-Meier analysis of survival time until death attributable to MM was determined to be significantly improved for dogs that received the huTyr vaccine, compared with that of historical controls. However, median survival time could not be determined for vaccinates because < 50% died of MM before the end of the observation period. No systemic reactions requiring veterinary intervention were associated with vaccination. Local reactions were primarily limited to acute wheal or hematoma formation, mild signs of pain at the injection site, and postvaccination bruising.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results support the safety and efficacy of the huTyr DNA vaccine in dogs as adjunctive treatment for oral MM.

Impact for Human Medicine—Response to DNA vaccination in dogs with oral MM may be useful in development of plasmid DNA vaccination protocols for human patients with similar disease.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research