Disrupting the Differentiation of Cancer Stem Cells to Prevent the Spread of Hemangiosarcoma

Hemangiosarcoma is a rapidly fatal disease. The lifetime risk is alarmingly high for some breeds like Golden Retrievers (~20% will die of this disease) and Portuguese Water Dogs (~15% will die of this disease). The risk of hemangiosarcoma is not limited to just these breeds but is considered a research priority for 40 different breed Parent Clubs and Foundations.

Despite considerable efforts to find effective treatments, the outcome for dogs with hemangiosarcoma has changed very little over the past 30 years. Recent evidence suggests hemangiosarcoma conforms to the “cancer stem cell” model, where a defined subset of cells is responsible for initiating and maintaining the tumor. These cells are resistant to conventional therapies and are very adaptable, being able to survive in a variety of tissues in the body.

For this project, Dr. Modiano proposes to reduce the malignant potential of hemangiosarcoma stem cells by forcing them to terminally differentiate into cells which can no longer self-renew. He further proposes that by disrupting their ability to self-renew he will enhance the sensitivity of these cells to conventional and targeted therapies and improve the outcomes of dogs with this disease.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 01759


Jaime F. Modiano, VMD, PhD
University of Minnesota