Pets benefit from clinical research, too

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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DALLAS, Texas - Hank is a 10-year-old dog who loves his playtime.  However, when Hank developed arthritis in his hip, he wasn't able to keep up with his sister Harriet.

"When he wakes up, it takes him a few minutes to get up and start walking in the morning," Hank's owner Kaye Coleman said.

Coleman enrolled him in a clinical trial to test CereKin, a new therapy for arthritis in dogs.

"Some of the dogs are doing a lot better on it," explained veterinarian Dr. Dickson Bain, Hillside Veterinary Clinic, in Dallas.

Bain says there are FDA trials for dogs with all kinds of ailments.

"Basically, pets have everything we have, so we treat them for pretty much everything people have," Bain explained.

About 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year, 800 thousand have type 1 diabetes, and more than 14 million pets in the U.S. have arthritis.

"Any dog over 50 pounds is going to have arthritis," Bain said.

A team of animal and human doctors recently launched the National Veterinary Cancer Registry, which helps pet owners find clinical trials in their area. The goal is to help animals and humans. Many times, the trials are free and owners don't know if their pet will receive a drug or a placebo.

Hank seems to be getting around better since starting the clinical trial. Coleman hopes he continues to improve.

"I would hope that it gives him a quality of life that he can sustain for the rest of his life," Coleman said.

Experts say a major benefit of studying treatments in dogs is researchers can decrease the cost and cut the time involved in drug discovery. That's because dogs age many times faster than humans and their diseases typically progress more rapidly. There are also many clinical trials for cats and other pets.

To find out more about cancer trials where you live, visit

Additional Information:

Just like humans, animals can suffer from a variety of diseases.  Over 14 million pets in the U.S. have arthritis, some as young as one year of age, but only a small percentage of animals with the condition are receiving treatment.  Symptoms of arthritis in pets can include generalized weakness and unwillingness to exercise or play.  

CAUSES:  The joints of your pet's body are composed of soft connective tissue and cartilage.  Their role is to provide cushioning between bones to allow normal movement.  Arthritis is an inflammation that causes damage to joints.Arthritis in pets has different causes than arthritis in people. In humans, primary arthritis is generally thought to be an age-related condition. In pets, it's most often caused by one of the following:

  • Autoimmune disorders that cause your pet's immune system to attack itself
  • bacterial or tick borne infection
  • developmental disorders, like hip or elbow dysplasia
  • high calorie, carb-based diets that cause your pets body to grow faster than the cartilage des
  • injury or trauma to a joint like a ruptured ACL

Older and large breed dogs are more apt to develop arthritis than young dogs, smaller breeds or cats, for obvious reasons. The longer a joint is used over a dog's lifetime, the more apt it is to be injured. (Source:

TREATMENT:   Kindred Biosciences, Inc. has launched a clinical trial for CereKin in dogs with osteoarthritis.  The trial is being conducted under a protocol concurrence negotiated with the FDA.  CereKin is a potent downregulator of several cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF). It is a member of a novel class of anti-inflammatory agents and is free from the side effects typically associated with NSAIDs such as gastric ulceration, renal toxicity, or hepatic toxicity. It has also demonstrated, in several studies, the potential to delay the progression of osteoarthritis. If results from the clinical trial prove positive, then researchers expect the approval of CereKin by 2015.

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