Liz and Rhylee – Cancer Vaccine Trial Participants

“This is all I can do and I hope it’s enough. I hope that the study helps researchers find out more about cancer, and I hope they’re able to stop it someday. I can’t do cancer research but I can do this. Cancer research takes us all,” Tony Arduino said. 

Tony is a local Fort Collins resident and has had dogs all his life. “I don’t ever remember not having dogs. I had them as a kid and I’ve always had them as an adult. For years, I had German Shorthairs and Wirehairs. When I turned 62, I wasn’t sure I could handle their energy anymore. When I saw the Spinone Italiano breed I fell in love,” Tony said. 

“There are a number of things I love about this breed. They’re big dogs, but so gentle. They’re comical and easy to train. They are just big lovers. Spinone are an old man’s hunting dogs,” he added with a warm laugh. 

Tony has two Spinoni – Liz and Rhylee. He’s also on the Digital Media Committee of the Spinone Club of America (SCOA). The group was founded in 1987 and now has hundreds of dedicated members. Tony is the editor of the SpinoneNew, the online newsletter of the Spinone Club of America.

It was from his vet that Tony first learned about the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS). “She joined it with her dog and suggested I do the same. I had no idea this level of research was being done in my backyard, but as soon as I heard about it, I signed Liz up,” he said. 

The goal of the VACCS trial is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer. If successful, this study could provide important justification for eventually looking at a similar approach in humans.

The Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS trial) is the largest clinical trial conducted for canine cancer to date. The goal of this trial is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention, rather than treatment of dogs with cancer. Participants were randomized to receive either a series of vaccines similar to other routine vaccines that are given to dogs currently, or placebo vaccines. All dogs have continued to live at home and are checked twice annually. 

Rhylee wasn’t quite old enough when the study first started but soon enough she was able to join her sister a couple of years later. They both received a series of vaccines – either the vaccine or a placebo – and now come in for their bi-annual exams. 

“I am so proud to be a part of this study,” Tony said. “It’s great. I’m a big believer in science and I’m fascinated by what they’re doing. I’m so encouraged and I’m so hopeful that it works. Not only for my dogs but all dogs. And maybe even humans someday, too.”

As a longtime dog lover, Tony is no stranger to canine cancer. He’s lost three beloved animals to the disease – his first Springer had a blastoma-type cancer; one of his wirehairs and one of his shorthairs died of cancer as well. 

“Cancer is just as bad in dogs as it is in humans. It’s so hard to watch them suffer and not be able to tell us what’s wrong. Just like everyone who has lost someone to cancer, I’m encouraged that maybe we will have prevention options someday,” he added. 

“I just hope my dogs got the vaccine and I hope it works. I cannot wait to see the results of this study. I have so much hope. I am so proud that my dogs are playing a small role in solving cancer; it takes us all.”

Enrollment for this study is now closed. The study will end in May 2024, and the results will be analyzed in the subsequent months. Data will be published as soon as available. 

For nearly forty years, the Flint Animal Cancer Center has been at the forefront of cancer research. Our mission is to conquer cancer in all species, and potentially even prevent cancer. One of the ways we make progress in the fight against cancer is through clinical trials like the VACCS study. Learn more about our clinical trials program and see open studies here.