Immunotherapy for Dogs with Increased Immune Response (20120263, Dr. John Ohlfest)

Technology No. 20120263

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

John Ohlfest, PhD
Alan Epstein, MD, PhD
Professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

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