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Experimental Cancer Drug For Dogs Could Hold Promise For People

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer in people.  It is the cancer that claimed the lives of senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. Now an experimental drug being tested on dogs could hold promise for people.

Emily, a 10-year-old Portuguese water dog is Laura Kamienski's everything.

When Emily was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer earlier this year, Laura was devastated.

"I sobbed. I sat in the middle of the exam room and sobbed," recalled Laura Kamienski.

Emily The Dog

Emily has Glioblastoma and was given just three months to live. It's a tough cancer to treat and options are limited. So Laura enrolled Emily in a new clinical trial at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

"That gave me hope," she said, "I said 'I'll do anything'."

A drug is injected directly into the tumor, getting right to the cancer while leaving healthy brain tissue undamaged.

"We watch the entire treatment on MRI. So we can watch the drug cover the tumor. And so we know we've achieved the treatment goals of actually targeting all the cancer cells," explained Dr. John Rossmeisl, Professor Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Researchers say results are so promising the National Institutes of Health is now helping fund the trial hoping it can lead to a breakthrough for people.

In the meantime, it has been six weeks since Emily's first treatment.

"She hasn't had a seizure since last time. She's herself," said Kamienski.

MRI's show her tumor is shrinking.

"The black spot means the tumor that actually means the tumor is dying. That's what we want to see," explained Dr. Rossmeisl. "The only way this could have been better if it was totally gone. This is really good news."

"It's not a cure, I knew that going in," said Kamienski. "This is the best hope, to give her more time."

And maybe someday, saving people trying to beat this cancer.

In partnership with Wake Forest University, Virginia Maryland Veterinary College is still accepting dogs with glioblastoma into the clinical trial.

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