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Immunotherapy for Dogs with Increased Immune Response

Technology #20120263

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Canine Cancer Treatment
John Ohlfest, PhD
Alan Epstein, MD, PhD
Professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
Managed By
BJ Haun
Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Canine Immunotherapy requires Costimulaltory Molecules

Recent canine cancer treatments have incorporated immunotherapy research to find a way to employ the animal’s own immune system to seek out and destroy tumors. While this method can be less harmful than current cancer treatments, a major hurdle to the approach is that cancer does not stimulate a strong immune response. Costimulatory proteins must activate receptors on T-cells in order to trigger an immune response, and tumor cells, unlike viruses, lack the proper costimulatory signals necessary to provoke a strong immune response. Without the canine’s immune system alerted to the tumor, the cancer propagates.

Immunotherapy for Dogs

A protein has been developed which selectively and efficiently activates T-cell responses in canines. Activation of tumor specific T cells in the absence of correct costimulatory signals can lead to the inactivation of those cells, in a process known as “anergy”. Researchers working on developing a treatment, therefore, provided the correct stimulatory molecules at the time of activation to avoid anergy. A panel of Fc-ligand fusion proteins in combination with a tumor vaccine were screened to discover that Fc-OX40L was the most potent of the stimulatory molecules. The soluble Fc-ligand molecule was created to be canine-specific in order to be used in preclinical animal trials. The drug, which enhances anti-tumor immune responses, is the first of its class to be available for canines with this level of potency. This immunotherapy option offers promising treatment for animal tumors.


  • T cell activation to initiate the body’s response against cancerous tumors
  • Adapted for canine clinical research and treatment
  • Alternative to chemotherapy/radiation treatments

Phase of Development In vivo testing in canines