The canine melanoma vaccine, ONCEPT (tm), by Merial, was granted a conditional license approval by the USDA in March 2007. Today, CNNMoney reported that the USDA has granted full licensure for this anti-tumor vaccine.
I spoke with a veterinary technical services representative from Merial today who confirmed the full license approval. The company plans to introduce ONCEPT(tm) in Orlando, Florida during the January 16 - 20 North American Veterinary Conference.
Cancer in dogs is unfortunately very common. Melanoma, a cancer of the cells that produce melanin pigment, is the most common malignant oral cancer of dogs. In addition to the mouth, melanoma can be seen in the eye, paw pads and nail beds and skin. Melanoma is highly malignant and can spread (metastasize) to the kidney, liver, lymph nodes and lungs very quickly.
Treatment for Melanoma
- Surgery is the first step, and the surgeon takes margins around the mass as wide as possible. Because this tumor often shows up in small/difficult places such as the mouth, foot or eyelid, large margins are often difficult to obtain.
- Chemotherapy has been of little value with this type of tumor.
- Radiation therapy may extend survival times for earlier stages of this cancer.
- Anti-tumor vaccine for melanoma has just received full approval after many clinical trials to determine its efficacy. This is a DNA-based vaccine, using a protein found on melanoma cells that is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the canine melanoma protein. The protein is called tyrosinase and is found on normal and cancerous melanoma cells. DNA technology is used to insert a non-canine gene so that the dog's immune system will recognize the altered tyrosinase protein as "foreign" and will work to find and destroy the cancerous melanoma cells.
Learn more about this vaccine from Merial - PetCancerVaccine.com
Comparing Survival Times
According to the Animal Medical Center in New York where clinical trials were performed:
"These dogs [in the trials] had a median survival time of 389 days, a dramatic increase in survival (most dogs with advanced malignant melanoma have a median survival time of only 60-90 days with presently available therapies). There has been no toxicity noted in any dogs receiving DNA melanoma vaccines to date." Read full report
Is this vaccine right for your pet?
If your pet has been diagnosed with melanoma and you would like to know if the melanoma vaccine treatment option is a viable one for your pet, please speak to your veterinarian or consult a veterinary oncologist. Visit the Veterinary Cancer Society to find a veterinary oncologist for consultation.
Development of a xenogeneic DNA vaccine program for canine malignant melanoma at the Animal Medical Center from Science Direct