ASU researcher to begin testing possible cancer vaccine on pet dogs

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Man's best friend is also susceptible to one of man's most deadly diseases, cancer.  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Man's best friend is also susceptible to one of man's most deadly diseases, cancer.  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
ASU Professor Dr. Stephan Johnston believes one shot could cure both man and canine. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) ASU Professor Dr. Stephan Johnston believes one shot could cure both man and canine. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Man's best friend is also susceptible to one of man's most deadly diseases, cancer. 

ASU professor Dr. Stephan Johnston believes one shot could cure both man and canine. He's been working on the concoction for nearly 10 years. 

"We can find the things that make cancer almost look like an infection and vaccinate against those elements to protect, or even sometimes therapeutically treat the cancer," said Johnston.

Trials in mice show promising results. Now Johnston wants to try it out on dogs. He says it's already been proven safe, but does it work? 

Johnston was just given a $6 million grant to start the largest canine cancer clinical trial ever. The money was gifted by the Open Philanthropy Project, funded mainly by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, and his wife Cari Tuna.

To make this all work, Johnston says they're going to need about 800 canine volunteers. All will be pets, signed up by their owners. The dogs would receive a vaccine, and then be monitored for cancer every six months. 

"We're enrolling dogs that are 6 or older so they're more likely to be getting cancer at that age," said Johnston. 

Only dogs near partnering veterinary colleges in Colorado, Wisconsin and California are being accepted right now. 

If they're successful, the next step is human trials. 

Johnston's goal is to make a vaccine cheap and available to people around the world, especially in developing countries. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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