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Innovative cancer programme launched for pets

First combined screening, detection and treatment program launched in UK & US

AN INNOVATIVE cancer screening, detection and individualised treatment program has been announced by a pioneering British bioscience Company.

The PetScreen Veterinary Cancer Program is the first of its kind and will enable very early detection of cancer in companion animals from a blood 'fingerprint'. Initial focus will be on dogs, with cats a close second. Cancer in dogs is just as common as it is in humans and just like humans, if cancers are detected early enough, they respond well to treatment.

PetScreen, (www.pet-screen.com) based in Nottingham, is one of a new generation of companies to utilise technologies which are emerging as a result of genome research. The screening service is based on proteomic technology, which looks for characteristic patterns to detect a range of cancers in blood serum. The importance of proteomics in cancer treatment is already recognised in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If cancer is detected, PetScreen provide an individualised chemotherapy service which makes treatment selection fast and easy. The impact of the treatment on the tumour is then monitored by further proteomic sampling.

Ideally a puppy would be sampled at twelve months, thereafter yearly, but in high risk breeds such as boxers and flat-coat retrievers a six monthly screen is recommended. Despite it being well known that certain canine breeds are very prone to develop cancer, there have been no screening options available until now.

The program will be available through selected veterinary hospitals and practices across the UK and many practices have already expressed serious interest in the PetScreen program.

There are around 3,500 practices around the country and in the US the number is significantly higher at around 40,000. PetScreen is launching a Preferred Partner program which will fast track the availability of the service. They will showcase the technology at the worlds largest international veterinary conference in Florida early in January, and a similar event in Birmingham in April. 2006.

The two founding partners of PetScreen, Professor Graeme Radcliffe and Dr Kevin Slater bring together a unique meld of expertise and entrepreneurial skills. Both have built and sold innovative companies, but come from very different backgrounds. In Professor Radcliffe's case, the death of a four year old curly coat retriever from bone cancer spurred him to begin the search for technology which could change the way cancer is detected and treated.

His work with Nottingham Trent University led to a chance meeting with Dr Slater. An entrepreneurial biologist, Dr Slater had started his career in leukaemia research before setting up a successful research and diagnostics company to help speed up the drug discovery process.
Keenly interested in applying innovative technologies to new markets, the two began the process which led to the development of this unique program. Dr Slater commented: "We are at the beginning of an exciting chapter of discovery both in terms of the knowledge and data we will accumulate and the reward of taking advanced technology to eliminate suffering in our pets."

Patricia Olson, the President and Chief Executive of the US headquartered Morris Animal Foundation (www.morrisanimalfoundation.org), one of the foremost animal health research institutes in the world recently commented, "With the recent sequencing of the canine genome and the launching of new initiatives targeting this devastating disease, curing canine cancer is no longer a distant dream ... but a quickly approaching reality!"