Next-level research amasses new funding

March 23, 2018

Support from Morris Animal Foundation fuels research for three CVM faculty members

Three College of Veterinary Medicine researchers—Erin Dickerson, PhD; Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD; and Derek Korpela, DVM, PhD candidate—each received a grant from Morris Animal Foundation of Denver, Colo., to further their innovative studies in canine cancer research.

This faculty team shares a passion to investigate an aggressive disease, hemangiosarcoma, which is rapidly fatal in dogs. These researchers are tackling it—and other incurable cancers—from every angle:

Erin Dickerson find ways to block hemangiosarcoma tumor growth

Start date: 10/1/2017
Projected duration: 2 years

Study cost: $177,316

Studies suggest that hemangiosarcoma relies on cholesterol and lipids to fuel tumor growth. Dickerson and her team will delve deeper into understanding the cell signaling pathways activated by these metabolites, and, using existing drugs, will interrupt these processes and kill tumor cells.

Jaime Modiano applies a promising new drug used to treat hemangiosarcoma to other incurable cancers

Start Date: 12/1/17
Projected Duration: 2 years

Study Cost: $182,807

U of M researchers recently developed a new cancer drug, eBAT, which improved post-diagnostic survival of dogs with hemangiosarcoma. In this project, Modiano and his team will define how eBAT works to make the body inhospitable to cancer cells, and determine the drug’s potential to improve overall survival of dogs with other incurable cancers.

Derek Korpela evaluates a novel adjunct treatment for hemangiosarcoma

Start Date:  2/1/18
Projected Duration: 2 years

Study Cost: $100,000

Certain heart medications, called adrenergic receptor antagonists, are believed to inhibit the metabolic pathways that are critical to hemangiosarcoma tumor cell viability and growth. In this study, Korpela’s team will examine how these drugs cause this disruption, and combine them with standard chemotherapies for a new treatment approach that reduces chemotherapy-associated side effects and improves outcomes for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

The Morris Animal Foundation’s Small Animal Scientific Advisory Board selected, based on scientific merit and impact, the studies with the greatest potential to save lives, preserve health, and advance veterinary care. Grants from the foundation are extremely competitive, and these awards reflect the excellence of each researcher’s proposal, as well as their history as an established investigator.

Learn more about the work the Morris Animal Foundation is doing on their website.