Uniting Pet and Human Research for a Cure®
Year in Review
Animal Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer by funding research in and increasing public awareness of comparative oncology, the study of naturally occurring cancers in pets and people.
Special Message from Our Founder & Board Chair
When I set out to bring comparative oncology research to the forefront, most of the cancer research community and the general public had not had much exposure to the idea that cancer in pets could teach us a great deal about cancer in people. I’d never run a non-profit, and while I had experience participating in clinical trials for pets with cancer from my veterinary oncology practice, I didn’t have experience building a research funding organization.
Flash forward twenty years and Animal Cancer Foundation has helped to create an entirely different conversation in cancer research about the inclusion of pet animals as a source of cancer information that benefits everyone – so that now more funding for genomic research in pets, for development of new therapies , is flowing into the pipeline and cross-species investigation is becoming more available all the time, even at the national level.
But, so much more remains to be done if we want to see new, more effective treatments come into the veterinary clinic and the human cancer treatment facility in a quick and cost effective manner. Comparative oncology is one of the most powerful, yet one of the most underutilized, cancer research tools to find new treatments.
The wonderful news is that we can bring this innovative work to the forefront — by working together.
Too many of us continue to lose our loved ones — people and pets — to cancer. We also suffer the long-term consequences of current treatment options or face a diagnosis of a rare cancer that does not have effective treatment possibilities.
Animal Cancer Foundation seeks to improve this situation to benefit both pets and people. We’re focused on closing the gap in funding for comparative oncology research, uniting pet and human research for a cure. Our approach includes the following three science-based funding priorities, coupled with ongoing public-facing awareness and information initiatives:
Improved understanding of disorders —with a focus on cancer and its many complications through comparative oncology genomics research.
Discovery of novel, effective cancer treatment methods.
Randomized controlled comparative oncology clinical trials (of sufficient power to detect clinically significant differences) to address many long-standing diagnostic and treatment questions.
Case for Support
The National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute Budget Request for 2022 is for $7,600,000 + $194M of Cancer Moonshot Funding which expires in 2023 entirely. Comparatively, veterinary oncology research has received a small fraction of funding from the federal government through the NCI or the US Department of Agriculture. Veterinary medicine depends for additional funding on pharmaceutical companies, college veterinary school funding and on various non-profits. In particular the pharmaceutical companies may only be funding narrow studies to confirm the efficacy of a particular product.
10 YEARS AND $1 BILLION DOLLARS TO BRING ONE DRUG TO MARKET
CRISIS: 90% OF PRE – CLINICAL DRUGS FOR CANCER FAIL
Non-profits, like Animal Cancer Foundation, are often the only source that fill the funding gap and support early initiative comparative oncology research that is not limited in scope, allowing scientists to ask “big picture” questions about cancer disease.
A robust, large scale research study in canines, one that would be usable to establish a basis for a new cancer therapeutic under consideration by the Food & Drug Administration, is estimated to cost $250,000 in total.
Because a “gold” standard of treatment may not exist for companion animals, they may be enrolled in a clinical trial without first exhausting all other treatment options.
Compare that to funding a Phase I human clinical trial of a new therapeutic which is estimated to cost $150,000 per person.
Now factor in that the person in a Phase I clinical trial must often have failed all other approved treatments before being enrolled in the trial.
Laboratory research supplies and reagents cost
Provides 100 doses of a drug in trial
Enrolls a small cohort of mice in a clinical trial
Will fund one study of cells in a petri dish
Enrolls one dog in a new clinical trial
Allows a small cohort of dogs to enroll in a trial
Canine Cancer Genome Project
Representing New Hope for People and Pets with Cancer
Canine cancer tumor genome mapping is a critical step in cancer research.
The Canine Cancer Genome Project (CCGP) modeled after The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and sponsored by a generous inaugural gift from Blue Buffalo Foundation will map the tumor genomes of the seven most common canine cancers and place the datasets in the public domain for use by all veterinary and human cancer researchers, enhancing the ability to compare cancer genomics in both pets and people to find cures for all. Personalized medicine through targeted cancer therapy holds great promise for those suffering with the disease.
Animal Cancer Foundation is proud to have been able to create an umbrella for this collaborative research project, bringing together exemplary researchers across institutions familiar with TCGA, genetics, veterinary oncology, human oncology, bioinformatics and drug development to conduct the project. We are grateful to the Canine Comparative Oncology Genomics Consortium (CCOGC) for providing the canine biospecimen samples needed to successfully complete this imperative project. When TCGA was undertaken costs to analyze one sample were very high.
Today, thanks to new technologies, costs are significantly lower and achievable. Phases I and II of this groundbreaking work have been funded, work is commencing, and Phase III fundraising is now open to bring the project to fulfillment in 36 months.
Phase I and Phase II have been fully funded. ACF is dedicated to raising another $600,000 to bring this project to result in 36 months.
ACF Funded COVID-19 Research Shows Early Promise
Since 2017, Animal Cancer Foundation has been a grant sponsor of Joshua Schiffman, MD, PEELTX’s lead researcher. Dr. Schiffman is also Professor of Pediatrics, Adjunct Professor of Oncological Sciences, and Medical Director for the High Risk Cancer Clinic at the University of Utah. Dr. Schiffman’s groundbreaking work on the critical tumor suppressor gene TP53 in elephants (elephant p53, EP53) looked at the potential of EP53 to protect elephants from developing cancer. ACF’s grant award of $50,000 allowed the team to extend to testing EP53 protein loaded nanoparticles for their ability to kill canine osteosarcoma and histiocytic sarcoma, a foundation for exploring translational treatment for dogs and ultimately children and teens primarily effected by osteosarcoma.
So when Dr. Schiffman called on ACF early during the COVID-19 epidemic to fund a project for a naturally-occurring therapeutic, the board enthusiastically responded with another grant of $50,000. Dr. Schiffman in a collaboration among scientists at PEEL Therapeutics, University of Utah Health, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Weill Cornell Medical Center conducted a clinical study published June 29, 2020 in Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology, that sheds light on the mysterious blood clots and inflammation seen in patients with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers early promise for development of new medicine that may block COVID-19 inflammation and has application to the inflammation seen in other diseases, including especially, cancer in pets and people.
ACF continues to champion this research and we know that $250,000 would bring a robust study to fruition.
“As a pediatric oncologist caring for children with life-threatening illness and in a family with 2 loving dogs, I can share that this research in PEEL Therapeutics supported by ACF is the most important work I’ve ever done and will impact dogs and humans around the world.”
Joshua D. Schiffman, MD
PEEL Therapeutics, Inc.
Animal Cancer Foundation’s previous sponsorship of a 2015 NAS-IOM workshop that emphasized the need for more robust genomic sequencing of canine normal and canine cancer genomes that resulted in a highly regarded white paper led our board of directors and scientific advisory council to create the Canine Cancer Genome Project.
“As you know, this public workshop will convene experts and stakeholders to examine the potential role of companion animals as biomonitors of shared environmental exposures that may affect human aging and cancer.
“On behalf of the National Academies, I thank the Animal Cancer Foundation for its generous support of this project. this work would not be possible without you.”
Sharyl Nass, Ph.D.
Director, Board on Health Care Services
Now ACF is proud to also sponsor the 2021 1.5-day public workshop that will examine, The Potential Role of Companion Animals As Sentinels of Relevant, Shared Environmental Exposures That May Affect Human Aging and Cancer.
Presentations and panel discussions:
Potential data sources needed to assess whether companion animals may serve as sentinels for human environmental exposures
The state of the science for biomarkers of exposure and use of biosensors for application to companion animal populations of interest.
Best practices for collection, storage, and analysis of biosamples to assess exposures (eg., biorepository resources, DNA susceptibility, DNA methylation, microbiome, etc).
Strategies for standardizing, sharing, and aggregating health records and relevant metadata across species.
Current policies and regulations related to monitoring and mitigating environmental exposures and the role for prospective interventions based on companion animal data.
The planning committee for this December 2021 workshop is convened because of support from non-profits including Animal Cancer Foundation.
Nationwide Pet Cancer Awareness Walk
Animal Cancer Foundation partnered with Nationwide® pet insurance to host the inaugural Nationwide® Pet Cancer Awareness Walk throughout November-December, and raised nearly $90,000 in support of ACF’s mission!
States (and Washington DC and US Virgin Islands)
“We’re very pleased with this first-ever virtual event for the Foundation,” said Executive Director Barbara Cohen. “Not only were we able to raise vital operating funds, but also increase awareness of our mission with a national audience. We’re excited to co-host the event with Nationwide® pet insurance again later this year.”
was also awarded to 12 local shelters/rescue organizations thanks to sponsor FidoCure®
“Thanks for making this a great way to help dogs all over the country, bond more with our own dogs and having more outdoor time with them!”
– Glenn, Walk Participant
A full list of participants is on the Animal Cancer Foundation website.
Art of Happiness
A fun-raiser way to demonstrate how much our pets bring love, joy and levity to our lives while supporting our mission to fund research to find a cure for pets and people with cancer.
For a $20 minimum donation to our mission + a photo of your furry friend… one of our volunteer talented artists (or one of our well-meaning volunteer doodlers), will create an awesome one-of-a-kind VIRTUAL drawing of your pet for you to keep and share on social media to celebrate the happiness our pets bring to our lives.
ACF received an award from the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association (LIVMA) “for your ongoing work uniting pet and human research for a cure.”
— February 27, 2020
Dr. Jacqueline Carver, President, LIVMA and Barbara Cohen, Executive Director, ACF
New Friends and Core Values
New Board Member: Loni Edwards
Animal Cancer Foundation welcomed Loni Edwards, Esq., CEO & Founder, The Dog Agency and PetCon, to the Board of Directors.
Loni brings to the Board a love of dogs, and considerable legal and business knowledge. She graduated from Harvard Law School, but was inspired by the social-media popularity of her late French Bulldog, Chloe, to create The Dog Agency in 2015 as the first talent management agency to focus on pet influencers.
The Dog Agency also produces the annual PetCon for pet lovers from around the world. The December 2020 virtual event raised $25,000 for ACF.
Dr. Gerald Post, Founder & Board President, appeared with Loni Edwards at the virtual PetCon-LA, December 5, 2020 pet cancer presentation.
Lily the Labrador Retriever Inspires Generous Donation to ACF
In Spring 2020, Island Pet Center in Oak Hill, Washington, presented Animal Cancer Foundation with an unexpected gift of $3,193! According to the business owner, Brian Knoll, he was inspired by his Labrador Retriever, Lily, and her battle with osteosarcoma, to co-host a promotion with NutriSource Pet Foods to benefit ACF.
Throughout March, a portion of sales from NutriSource food sold by Island Pet Center was earmarked for ACF, and customers could also make individual donations. Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, customers turned out to support the business and ACF. “At the time, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the events that would unfold during March as this pandemic took hold,” Brian said. “Through it all, our customers gave and bought and supported.”
Animal Cancer Foundation is recognized as a tax exempt entity with the IRS. For an overview of ACF’s mission, programs, activities and financial information, please click here.
Audited financial statements available upon request.