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Angell Participates in Revolutionary Brain Tumor Trial

Finley – pre-surgery

After beloved Golden Retriever “Finley” was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor, his family received the unwelcome news that treatment options were limited to surgery, with no guarantee that he would pull through. But Finley defied the odds by enduring a three-hour surgery, performed by Angell’s Dr. Allen Sisson, and he went on to live five more happy years, till the age of 14.

For countless other dogs suffering from inoperable tumors, however, hope was spare, as this particular cancer is nearly always fatal, and it remains one of the scariest of all diagnoses.

Finley – post-surgery

But today, Angell is positioned at the forefront of clinical advances that are revolutionizing brain tumor treatment.

All-New Clinical Trial Delivers New Treatments and Hope

In January 2021, Angell was granted approval to participate in the CANINE trial, a clinical trial for dogs suffering from brain tumors. The trial, currently underway with more than 25 dogs from across the U.S., is evaluating the effectiveness of combination immunotherapy for gliomas ‑ a specific type of brain tumor ‑ in pet dogs.

Dr. Melissa Chambers at University of Alabama – Birmingham is spearheading the trial, with help from Angell neurologists Drs. Jennifer Michaels and Michele James, and other participating veterinary neurologists nationwide.

How it Works

The specific treatment underscores the revolutionary nature of contemporary veterinary medicine. Following surgery for resection, or removal, of the tumor—and the placement of a catheter into the tumor bed—an oncolytic virus is administered post-operatively, via a single injection. Oncolytic viruses are like tiny miracle workers: they infect and break down cancer cells but leave normal cells alone.

Following the procedure, dogs taking part in the trial treated for thirty days with an oral small molecule inhibitor.

If this treatment sounds familiar it’s because parallel studies, led by Dr. Chambers and her team, are currently underway to determine the effectiveness of this treatment protocol in humans suffering from glioma tumors—a protocol made famous by the “Cancer Moonshot” mission launched by former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden.

The owners of dogs taking part in the trial are responsible for the cost of initial diagnostic testing to determine if a glioma is present, but once a diagnosis is confirmed—and pets meet all other inclusion criteria—the patient can be enrolled, with nearly all subsequent costs covered by the study. Best of all, there are no placebos in the study—every participant receives active treatment.

If you would like your dog to be considered for the trial, please contact Angell’s Neurology service at 617-541-5140 or