Morris Animal Foundation Funds New Study to Advance Osteosarcoma Treatment in Dogs

A new trial for therapeutics hopes to alter the course of dogs with osteosarcoma, the most deadly type that is a form of cancer of the bone. The research, which is funded by the Morris Animal Foundation is being led by a veterinary research team from the University of Minnesota.

Led by Dr. Jessica Lawrence, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, the team’s objective is to examine experimental immunotherapy initially in the lab first, then in the dogs of a selected group who have osteosarcoma in order to assess its efficacy. If the treatment is successful, it could become a revolutionary new treatment for osteosarcoma dogs.

“Immunotherapy, or treatment that boosts the body’s immune response against cancer, is one of the most exciting recent advances in the treatment of tumors,” said Dr. Lawrence. “There are a few treatments that are specifically designed for dogs. For this reason, we’re extremely thankful for the support of the Morris Animal Foundation to develop an innovative immunotherapy strategy for dogs of the giant breed who suffer from osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is a great way to hide from the body’s immune system, and so is able to grow and expand. We’re hoping this research will lead to a new method of boosting the immune system, and provide the pet owner with hope and oncologists who have been diagnosed with this horrible cancer.”

Osteosarcoma is one of the common bone tumors found in canines. It is cancer that disproportionately affects the bones that extend from long and giant breeds of dogs. Treatment options currently include limb amputations as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy however, some species are not suitable for surgery. A successful immunotherapy could be an ideal alternative to treat these dogs.

“New treatments are desperately needed for canine osteosarcoma, and immunotherapy treatments often have the advantage of fewer side effects,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Morris Animal Foundation Vice President of Scientific Operations. “This study could help improve outcomes and quality of life for dogs with osteosarcoma, particularly those that are poor surgical candidates.”

Cancer affects animals all over the world and is the leading cause of death for dogs older than 2 years old. From 1962 to the present, Morris Animal Foundation has provided more than 300 cancer-related studies and has invested over 40 million dollars, and continues to make progress against the disease.

About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation’s goal is to bridge the gap between science and resources to improve animal health. It was established in 1948 and is located in Denver the foundation is among the most prominent non-profit animal health research institutions around the globe, supplying over $149 million for more than 3,000 crucial studies across the spectrum of species. Learn more at