Background: Substance P-saporin (SP-SAP), a chemical conjugate of substance P and a recombinant version of the ribosome-inactivating protein, saporin, when administered intrathecally, acts as a targeted neurotoxin producing selective destruction of superficial neurokinin-1 receptor-bearing cells in the spinal dorsal horn. The goal of this study was to provide proof-of-concept data that a single intrathecal injection of SP-SAP could safely provide effective pain relief in spontaneous bone cancer pain in companion (pet) dogs.
Methods: In a single-blind, controlled study, 70 companion dogs with bone cancer pain were randomized to standard-of-care analgesic therapy alone (control, n=35) or intrathecal SP-SAP (20-60 µg) in addition to standard-of-care analgesic therapy (n=35). Activity, pain scores, and videography data were collected at baseline, 2 weeks postrandomization, and then monthly until death.
Results: Although the efficacy results at the 2-week postrandomization point were equivocal, the outcomes evaluated beyond 2 weeks revealed a positive effect of SP-SAP on chronic pain management. Significantly, more dogs in the control group (74%) required unblinding and adjustment in analgesic protocol or euthanasia within 6 weeks of randomization than dogs that were treated with SP-SAP (24%; P<0.001); and overall, dogs in the control group required unblinding significantly sooner than dogs that had been treated with SP-SAP (P<0.01).
Conclusion: Intrathecal administration of SP-SAP in dogs with bone cancer produces a time-dependent antinociceptive effect with no evidence of development of deafferentation pain syndrome which can be seen with neurolytic therapies.