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New Dog Cancer Cure: Targeted Chemo Hylaplat Gets Results

Canine Cancer is prevalent in Golden Retrievers
Photo Credit By cogdogblog 

A New Therapy for Dogs With Metastic Cancers Is Now Available And Getting Good Results

A new drug, HylaPlat, has produced high cure rates for many different forms of Canine Cancer. By way of targeting the cancer, and directly injecting it with Hylaplat chemotherapy, results have been dramatically improved locally, as well as systemically. So far the drug has proven highly effective on a variety of metastic cancers.  Trials are ongoing through veterinary practices, and your vet’s practice and your dog may be able to participate for free. Contact Information for canine cancer trial participation is located at the bottom of the article.

What is Hylaplat, The Injectable Chemotherapy?

The team at HylaPharm (a 2011 startup affiliated with the University of Kansas) blended Hyaluronan and Cisplatin to create HylaPlat.  The brain child of pharmaceutical chemist Laird Forrest Ph.D. and Daniel Aires, M.D., Director of dermatology at KU, Hylaplat is showing promise with canine cancers, and they hope to see it in human clinical trials as well in the future.
Hyaluronan is a natural polymer found in the body throughout connective, epithelial and neural tissues. It contributes significantly to cell proliferation and migration, and may also be involved in the progression of some malignant tumors.

Discovered in 1845 and licensed for medical use in 1978, Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medication listed by the World Health Organization as one of the Essential Medications. Currently, it is used intravenously to treat a number of cancers, including testicular, breast, bladder, ovarian, cervical, lung, brain and esophageal cancers in humans. 

It works by binding to cancer cells and preventing DNA replication. However, it does have some serious side effects such as auditory, kidney and nerve damage as well as the nausea and vomiting often expected from chemotherapy treatments.
Utilizing a blend of Hyaluronan and Cisplatin, Hylaplat makes possible a non-destructive, local injection which “sticks” well to cancer cells, allowing for an efficient uptake of cisplatin into the tumor cells.

Localizing the treatment to the tumor site, allows for a lower, targeted dose to be administered, thereby minimizing some of the more threatening side effects to the kidneys, nerves and auditory organs.

Photo Credit Celsim Junior - Flickr

As explained by Dr. Ares, “Injecting it directly into the main cancer lesion results in a very high drug level compared to normal injections into the veins,” Aires said. “Furthermore, most cancer cells have a receptor on their surface that grabs onto hyaluronan. In general, more aggressive cancers and the hard-to-treat cancer stem cells have more of these receptors. This is another factor that can help target the drug to cancer cells.”

Additionally, with Hylaplat, the compound molecule itself is very small. Because the compound molecule of Hyaluronan and Cisplatin is only 20 nanometers in size, after doing its work in the tumor, HylaPlat drains easily into the lymph nodes, delivering a high dose of chemotherapy to any cancer cells that may be hiding there.

As a result, HylaPlat may have additional advantages for treating cancers that metastasize through the lymph nodes; a category that includes 85 percent of human cancers. Breast, ovarian, colon and lung cancer are included in this category of metastic cancers. Standard chemotherapy treatments, in use today, tend not to get into the lymph nodes at substantial therapeutic levels, resulting in a greater risk of relapse.

Use of Hylaplat to Treat Canine Cancer

Traditionally, researchers begin testing cancer treatment on laboratory animals by first inducing a laboratory derived cancer.  Unlike naturally occurring cancers, these tend to have homogenous cancer cells grown carefully under laboratory conditions.  They are not very hardy, unlike naturally occurring cancers, that tend to have diverse cells and are better at evading the body’s natural immune system. 

By using larger animals with systems more similar to that of the human anatomy, comparative oncology researchers can better understand how new drugs may affect human patients. Dogs with naturally occurring cancers are an ideal population for testing drugs on a diverse group of cancers. So far, HylaPlat has proven effective in animal models, and larger animal trials for submission to the Federal Drug Administration are currently under way.

Golden retriever receiving chemotherapy

The Initial Trial Results for Cancer in Large Breed Dogs

In the initial clinical trial, which started in 2012, seven large-breed dogs with small forms of oral cancer received a formulation of the Hylaplat chemotherapy. The dogs in this study were suffering with naturally occurring cancers.

Of those first seven dogs, the cancer in three patients disappeared, and two other dogs showed signs of partial remission or slowing of the disease. These promising results gave rise to a feature story on a local television news network. Hylapharm was suddenly flooded with requests from pet owners with dogs suffering from all forms of cancer that wanted in on the trial.

Faced with this tremendous demand and the potential for experimenting with all sizes of dogs and various metastic cancers, researchers lifted the restrictions on the size of the dogs and types of cancers being tested. Additionally, local veterinarians were trained to use the treatment for cancers all over the bodies of dogs, including muscle and bone tumors, melanomas, sarcomas and lymphoma.

Injection of Hylaplat is performed by first sedating the dog, then injecting the chemotherapy directly into the tumor. The original treatment protocol called for four injections over a period of several weeks, however, some dogs have responded after just one injection. In general, the dogs show little to no side-effects to the treatment, with them adapting to their normal routines shortly after treatment.

Better yet, at this time, it is a very affordable course of treatment, while traditional chemotherapy has been cost prohibitive for many pet owners. Currently, the owner need only pay for the sedation and administration of Hylaplat. Traditional courses of chemo can run into the thousands of dollars with side-effects that often cause owners to regret their decision to pursue it.

Getting a canine version of HylaPlat to market, however, appears to be on the fast track, which should come as a delight to pet owners and the drug's creators.

The Canine Cancer trial is still accepting patients. If you think your dog could be a candidate, please call 913-588-3840 or email

All photos licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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