Improving human cancer therapy through the evaluation of pet dogs

Nat Rev Cancer. 2020 Dec;20(12):727-742. doi: 10.1038/s41568-020-0297-3. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Comparative oncology clinical trials play an important and growing role in cancer research and drug development efforts. These trials, typically conducted in companion (pet) dogs, allow assessment of novel anticancer agents and combination therapies in a veterinary clinical setting that supports serial biologic sample collections and exploration of dose, schedule and corresponding pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships. Further, an intact immune system and natural co-evolution of tumour and microenvironment support exploration of novel immunotherapeutic strategies. Substantial improvements in our collective understanding of the molecular landscape of canine cancers have occurred in the past 10 years, facilitating translational research and supporting the inclusion of comparative studies in drug development. The value of the approach is demonstrated in various clinical trial settings, including single-agent or combination response rates, inhibition of metastatic progression and randomized comparison of multiple agents in a head-to-head fashion. Such comparative oncology studies have been purposefully included in the developmental plan for several US FDA-approved and up-and-coming anticancer drugs. Challenges for this field include keeping pace with technology and data dissemination/harmonization, improving annotation of the canine genome and immune system, and generation of canine-specific validated reagents to support integration of correlative biology within clinical trial efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials, Veterinary as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / immunology
  • Dogs
  • Drug Development
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / veterinary*
  • Pets
  • Translational Research, Biomedical


  • Antineoplastic Agents