Hoover gives hope for nanomedicine cancer treatment

A ten-year-old beagle with prostate cancer is helping researchers at The University of Queensland use nanomedicines to accurately diagnose and target the disease.

Hoover is the first patient in the world to receive the nanomedicine, which the research team hopes will help track and treat his cancer, and lead to better treatment for people with the same disease.

Nanomedicine is the science of developing tiny particles for applications in health – in this case, therapeutics to specifically target a protein found in prostate cancer.

ACRF awarded the University of Queensland’s Centre for Advanced Imaging a $2.5 million grant in 2014, into investigating all types of cancer.

UQ Associate Professor Kris Thurecht said the new technology was important for advancing cancer treatments.

“Chemotherapy is a common treatment for most cancers,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it can also cause serious side effects because it is not always able to differentiate cancer cells from the healthy ones, sometimes damaging healthy cells in the process.

“Nanomedicines with the ability to target specific areas can lead us to target chemotherapy drugs to where they’re needed and kill cancerous cells with minimal impact on healthy cells.

Dr Thurecht said pre-clinical studies had been successful in treating prostate cancer in the laboratory, leading to total remission in some cases.

Our best friends may hold the key

“Validation of this science and technology in companion animals like Hoover is an exciting step forward in nanomedicine and towards human treatment,” he said.

Owner Brenda Douglas with Hoover, the world’s first patient to receive the novel nanomedicine

Dr Rod Straw, Veterinary Oncology Specialist, Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre and Australian Animal Cancer Foundation Director with Hoover and his owner, Brenda Douglas

Associate Professor Kris Thurecht and Dr Rod Straw, Centre for Advanced Imaging

Sarah Daniel, CAI Nuclear Scientist, analyses Hoover as he receives the novel nanomedicine; UQ Centre for Advanced Imaging

Hoover was chosen for the trial because dogs – like humans – naturally develop prostate cancer.

Dr Rod Straw, Veterinary Oncology Specialist and Director of Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre and the Australian Animal Cancer Foundation, said the beagle could prove to be the vanguard for a revolution in health care.

“Cases like Hoover’s are very important to cancer research,” he said.

“We can learn to develop cancer treatments for not only pets but humans as well.”

This article was published on the Centre for Advanced Imaging website, read the original here.