Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

What Are Clinical Trials and How Can My Pet Participate in Them?

Clinical trials are research studies that offer emerging and promising new treatments to patients with a medical problem that hasn’t responded to traditional treatment approaches. Clinical trials advance biomedical knowledge and treatments that benefit both animal and human patients.

The oncology service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital is a leader in making new cancer treatments available to dogs and cats with naturally occurring cancer that meet the trial eligibility criteria. The pets’ owners are informed about the risks and benefits of the trial and make the decision about whether to enroll their pet in the study. Many trials have funding that reduces the cost of care paid by the animal owner.

Currently the oncology service has several open trials for pets with cancer, including cancers of the mouth, bone cancer, and lymphoma. Treatments include new chemotherapy agents and immunotherapy approaches.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Tim Fan has led the Comparative Oncology Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. He’s a veterinary oncologist who collaborates with other scientists to find new drugs and strategies to treat cancer. When a promising treatment is discovered, Dr. Fan’s lab ensures that it is safe and effective and rapidly makes the treatment available to dogs and cats with cancer through clinical trials. The “comparative” part of his lab is that cancer treatments that are successful in veterinary patients can be made available to human patients, and vice versa. Dr. Fan has many roles at the University of Illinois, including appointments in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the Cancer Center at Illinois, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

Rebecca Kamerer is a certified veterinary technician who serves as the Clinical Trials Coordinator for the oncology service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.