ACF Announces Comparative Oncology Award 2017

Barbara Cohen, November 5, 2017

Animal Cancer Foundation - ACF Announces Comparative Oncology Award 2017

Animal Cancer Foundation is pleased to announce that its annual ACF Comparative Oncology Grant Award for 2017 has been presented to Joshua Schiffman, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences, and a member of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Primary Children's Medical Center.  Dr. Schiffman serves as the Medical Director of the High Risk Pediatric Cancer Clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute where he works to discover genes that may be targeted for both prevention and treatment of childhood cancer.  Dr. Schiffman's proposal was selected for funding through a competitive peer-review process focused on research with near-term benefit for pet patients with cancer that also emphasizes translation to human cancer patients.

For the study funded by Animal Cancer Foundation, Dr. Schiffman and his co-investigators Dr. Matthew Breen, Professor of Genomics and the Ocar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at the North Carolina University College of Veterinary Medicine and Professor Avi Schroeder of Technion Laboratory for Targeted Drug Delivery and Personalized Medicine Technology, are building on their recently described study of the discovery of extra copies of the critical tumor suppressor gene TP53 in elephants (elephant p53, EP53) and the potential of EP53 to protect elephants from developing cancer.  The funds from the grant will allow the team to test EP53 protein loaded nanoparticles for thei ability to kill primary canine osteosarcoma and histiocytic sarcoma, improving outcomes for those pets.  Simultaneously, the team is focused on laying the groundwork for translation of the treatment to children and teenagers, the human population most effected by osteosarcoma.

According to Schiffman, "Our group is very excited to receive this award.  Using this funding from Animal Cancer Foundation, we will test elephant p53 (EP53) in growing cancer cells that come from pet dogs that naturally develop their cancers.  Many cancers occur in both dogs and humans, and we will focus specifically on dog sarcomas that also occur in pediatric patients.  We hope that our results will advance our treatment of cancers in both family pets and human children."

"We are excited to be participating in this pioneering cancer research," said Annie Selkovits Taylor, Board of Directors President.  "It has the potential to improve treatments for, and hopefully move to cure cancer in, our two and four-legged family members."