The mission of the Pre-medical Cancer Immunotherapy Network for Canine Trials (PRECINCT), supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, is to provide infrastructure and oversight to a highly collaborative and interactive network of researchers and clinician scientists working to accelerate the application of next generation immunotherapies through comparative oncology. Pet dogs spontaneously develop cancers that share remarkable similarities in biology, genetics, treatment response and outcome to human patients. Evaluating next generation immunotherapies and combination immunotherapies in immune competent canine patients aims not only to provide more effective treatments for these pets but also unparalleled insight into response and response prediction through correlative biomarker discovery. This work will aid human clinical trial design and accelerate the translation of novel immunotherapies and immunotherapy protocols into the human clinic.
A canine patient with metastatic cancer undergoes total body imaging via a CT scan to assess disease burden
Our mission aligns with that of the Clinical and Translational Science Award One Health Alliance (COHA). Furthermore, PRECINCT works closely with the IOTN and PACMEN Moonshot networks to accelerate implementation of cutting edge translational diagnostic and therapeutic advances to benefit both humans and dogs with cancer.
Canine Cancer Patients Help Lead the Way
To evaluate therapies that act on a patient’s immune system against a tumor that has already “learned” to exist in this environment, it is necessary to use patient’s that have spontaneously developed tumors in the presence of an intact immune system. Many of our mouse model systems for cancer do not accurately recapitulate these necessary features of human patient disease and therefore may not represent the best models to translate advances in immunotherapy to human patients. In contrast, pet dogs develop spontaneous cancers in the presence of an intact immune system and many of these cancers parallel the molecular and biological features of their human counterparts. Furthermore, new therapies are desperately needed to more effectively treat our canine family members.
The field of comparative oncology aims to leverage the similarities between human and canine cancer patients and more rapidly advance next generation immunotherapies and combination therapies into the human clinic through innovative clinical trials in pet dogs, aimed to improve their lives and the lives of their human counterparts.
Comparative oncology is...
To evaluate therapies that act on a patient's immune system...
Why Study Cancer Immunotherapy?
In 2013 Science magazine declared Cancer Immunotherapy the breakthrough of the year. This heralded the era of a different form of cancer treatment. In contrast to therapies such as radiation and cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy) that directly kill the patient’s tumor, immunotherapies act on the patient’s immune system, training and augmenting its ability to kill tumor cells.
Veterinary surgeons work to remove a large splenic tumor from a dog with splenic hemangiosarcoma. This common tumor type in dogs shares histopathological and genetic features with a rare form of cancer in people known as angiosarcoma
Dramatic clinical responses have been seen in human patients with hematological cancers treated with genetically engineered, re-directed T cells and in human patients with cancers such as melanoma, non small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer with checkpoint inhibitors that unleash the power of the immune system against highly mutated tumors. These responses have led to great excitement and anticipation of how immunotherapies could be used to improve the lives of more people with different tumor types.
Pressing questions in the field include how can immunotherapy be used most effectively with conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy to achieve better response rates and overall outcomes?
How can we predict which patients respond best to which therapies so that we can maximize response rates and increase the probability of improved clinical outcome?
Cancer Moonshot Program
In 2016, in the State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new “Cancer Moonshot” program to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer - to achieve 10 years of progress in 5 years.
A Blue Ribbon Panel was assembled and charged with devising a roadmap that would achieve this aim. The Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendations included the creation of a translational science network devoted to immunotherapy.
This translational science network encompasses groups of experts sharing common interests in high impact fields such as tumor microenvironment, pancreatic cancer, pediatric immunotherapies and comparative oncology. PRECINCT is supported through this initiative.