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CMI Innovation in Canine Cancer Care – In Support of Andy’s Army

By Dr. Anthony Blikslager

Drs. Nemec, Allen & Mochizuki

The Translational Pharmacology and Physiology Program (TPP) organized a CMI event on July 26, 2017, to develop innovative ideas in canine cancer research to be funded by donations from the non-profit organization Andy’s Army.    Andy’s Army’s mission is to promote Wellness Awareness and Research (WAR) for canine cancer.  Fifteen CMI members came to hear some opening remarks by Dr. Paul Hess, who provided an excellent overview of the previously initiated ‘WAR on cancer, and how much more still needs to be done. For example, the tumor microenvironment has become a major focus of study that was under-recognized when the National Cancer Institute started ramping up federal funding in the 1970’s. There is a great deal that remains to be done, and the current effort highlights the great need for canine-specific funding in collaboration with the dog-loving public.

The format of the meeting allowed 60-minutes for CMI members to interact and formulate ideas, followed by three 5-minute presentations. These groups were:

  1. Drs. Fogle (Full Member), Hess (Full Member) and Nemec (Associate Member), who presented a proposal on using distemper virus as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to attack canine osteosarcoma
  2. Drs. Mariani (Full Member), Breen (Full Member) and Voykesner (Private Industry Partner), who discussed the use of a large canine tissue and database to investigate biomarkers of canine glioblastoma
  3. Drs. Allen (Associate Member), Nemec (Associate Member) and Mochizuki (Associate Member), who proposed assessing primary transfected canine tumor cells in a zebrafish model in order to identify biomarkers that allow tumors to spread and grow in different areas of the body

Each presentation was followed by an excellent discussion of the scientific premise of each proposal, followed by a vote by the attending members to develop a score for each proposal. This will be weighed along with a requested 3-page grant submission before final funding decisions are made.


According to their website, “the inspiration for Andy’s Army was a dog named Andy Bechtel who was adopted from Golden Retriever Rescue Resource, Inc.  (GRRR) in 2008 and diagnosed with canine cancer in 2009.”  He lost his battle in November 2009 and his owner Sue Bechtel helped to establish this philanthropic organization.  Andy’s Army has been extremely generous in the donations to the CMI with monies raised throughout the year.  The 7th Annual Andy’s Army Walk and Fun Run will be held on September 17, 9:30 am until 12:30 pm at Side Cut Metropark in Maumee, Ohio.  We encourage people to become involved in the great organization. We thank Andy’s Army for their continual support of canine cancer research and the Comparative Medicine Institute.

For more information or to learn how you can be a part of these efforts go to CMI Support Our Discoveries page.

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