Purdue veterinary medicine professor receives grant to research new bladder cancer therapy to help dogs, people

May 2, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Deborah Knapp, the Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology at Purdue University, has received a grant from the Animal Cancer Foundation for a two-year study on bladder cancer therapy.

The study is designed to develop a new drug therapy for both dogs and people with a deadly form of bladder cancer. Invasive urinary bladder cancer, or more specifically invasive transitional cell carcinoma (InvTCC), kills more than 14,000 people and an estimated 20,000 dogs annually in the United States, according to the ACF.

"Most deaths from InvTCC are due to non-resectable cancer that has become resistant to chemotherapy," said Knapp, who is in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and also is co-director of the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program. "Better drugs to treat InvTCC are crucially needed."

Canine and human InvTCC have previously been shown to have very similar cellular and molecular features, biologic behavior including sites and frequency of metastasis, and response to therapy, Knapp said. Dogs with InvTCC are a good model for the same cancer in people, and new breakthroughs in canine studies can benefit dogs and, potentially, humans.

The study, which will be aided by the $50,000 ACF grant and support from Endocyte in West Lafayette, Ind., will focus on a new drug strategy that is expected to transform InvTCC treatment by safely delivering a drug, tubulysin B, which has extremely potent anti-tumor effects, selectively to the cancer cells by conjugating the drug to folate. Studies in the laboratory of Phillip Low, Purdue's Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, have shown that specific cancers take up much higher amounts of folate than normal cells, allowing preferential delivery of folate-drug conjugates to the cancer. Knapp and Low have worked together to apply this strategy to bladder cancer.

Knapp said a multidisciplinary team with expertise in veterinary and human medical oncology, bladder cancer, imaging and pathology, and folate uptake in cancer has been assembled to complete the study. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Sources: Deborah Knapp, 765-494-1107, knappd@purdue.edu

Kevin Doerr, public affairs director for the College of Veterinary Medicine, 765-494-8216, doerrkr@purdue.edu 

Related website: 
Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine 

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