A team of researchers at the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis has described a new way to increase the anti-cancer activity of natural killer cells – a type of immune cell – in pet dogs receiving radiation therapy for naturally-occurring bone cancer.  The study may illustrate a promising new way to use the immune system to treat cancer in both dogs and humans. 


  • William J. Murphy, PhD
  • Robert J. Canter, MD
  • Michael S. Kent, DVM

Three key benefits of the findings

  • Shows the value of using pet dogs with intact immune systems in preclinical cancer immunotherapy trials
  • The therapy appeared safe and potentially efficacious in cancer-bearing dogs, supporting eventual expansion into human clinical trials
  • Illustrates a successful veterinarian-physician-scientist collaboration with potential translational benefit to both human and animal health
Photo of disappearance of possible cancer nodule in the lung of one of the dogs treated in this study. (FROM: Canter RJ et al. Radiotherapy enhances natural killer cell cytotoxicity and localization in pre-clinical canine sarcomas and first-in-dog clinical trial. J Immunother Cancer 2017;5(1):98)