Our current research in cancer


Evaluation of plasma and urinary nucleosomes in dogs with urothelial carcinoma

Student Research Project Grant: £3,200 awarded in 2023

Institution: University of Cambridge

Urothelial carcinoma (bladder cancer) is the most common neoplasm of the lower urinary tract and accounts for 2% of all canine malignancies. It can be challenging to diagnose as its clinical signs closely mimic those of urinary tract infections, and no neoplasia-specific changes are typically observed on routine haematology, biochemistry, or plain radiography. Hence, diagnosis typically requires abdominal ultrasound plus the collection of cells/tissue by suction biopsy, which requires general anaesthesia and possible referral of a specialist centre. Therefore, there is a need for sensitive and specific tests that can be performed non-invasively by general practitioners.

This undergraduate study will determine whether serum and urine nucleosomes (small fragments of chromosomes released into the blood during cell death or white blood cell activation in inflammation) can be used to identify dogs with urothelial carcinoma.


Embryonic stem cell markers to identify mast cell tumour nodal metastases in dogs: a pilot study

Clinical Research Project Grant: £9961.50 awarded in 2021

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Mast cell tumours are the most common skin tumours in dogs. They typically metastasise to their draining lymph nodes before spreading to more distant sites. Cancer stem cells are likely candidates for metastasis, so this project will investigate embryonic stem cell markers for their potential to identify mast cell tumour metastasis, especially in its early stages.


Beta-adrenergic receptor expression in canine haemangiosarcomas – search for a new potential therapeutic intervention

Clinical Research Project Grant: £7830 awarded in 2020

Institution: University of Nottingham

Canine haemangiosarcomas are malignant vascular tumours with a typically poor prognosis due to their poor response to conventional therapy and high metastatic rate. The median survival time for dogs with certain forms of haemangiosarcomas is only 8 months using current therapeutic approaches of chemotherapy and surgical excision. Treatment for human malignant vascular tumours with β-adrenergic receptor antagonists has greatly improved survival rates, so this study is exploring the expression of these receptors in canine haemangiosarcomas to see if they can be a therapeutic target.


Past research in cancer


Feline lymphoma of the nervous system: a retrospective study (2003-2018)

Student Research Project Grant: £1600 awarded in 2020

Institution: RVC

This undergraduate project assessed the relative frequency of different forms of feline lymphoma, especially those involving the nervous system, and reviewed their clinical features and diagnostic findings. A total of 250 cats were included in the study with a median age of 9.7 years. Anatomical locations of lymphoma included alimentary (55.7%), hepatic (14.5%), splenic (9.4%), mediastinal (10.6%), nasal (8.2%), cutaneous (2.4%), multicentric (19.6%), renal (14.5%%) and nervous system (9.4%). Cats with nervous system lymphoma presented with chronic (79.2%), progressive (100%), lateralised (58.3%) and non-painful (58.3%) neurological deficits. The lesions affecting the nervous system were seen with advanced imaging in seventeen cats. Alimentary lymphoma (32.2%) and renal lymphoma (25.8%) were most frequently seen in cats with neurological deficits. Although nervous system lymphoma is relatively infrequent compared with alimentary, mediastinal, multicentric and cutaneous forms, it should be considered when compatible clinical signs are present.