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One Cure dinner raises funds to support CSU's comparative cancer research

by Karen Wheeler

Determined to find a cancer cure for animals and people, supporters of Colorado State University's Flint Animal Cancer Center gathered in Denver last month and raised $270,000 at a benefit dinner to help fund translational cancer research through the center's Comparative Oncology Clinical Trials program.

The Flint Animal Cancer Center is home to the world’s largest group of veterinary cancer researchers and treatment providers; it annually books about 6,000 appointments with pets suffering from naturally occurring tumors.

Meg Cowan started the One Cure fund-raising initiative to support cancer research that benefits pets and people.The center’s Comparative Oncology Clinical Trials program, conducted in collaboration with the University of Colorado Cancer Center, is designed to translate insights gained from cancer treatment in dogs into improvements in human cancer treatment – a comparative approach that’s possible because of disease similarities among species.

“Thanks to the commitment and generosity of our supporters, and the hard work and determination of our clinicians and scientists, we will continue to make research advances through clinical trials that benefit all species,” said Dr. Rodney Page, a veterinary oncologist and director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center.

Supporting translational research

The third-annual benefit dinner in early April was part of the One Cure fund-raising initiative begun by Meg Cowan, a client of the CSU Animal Cancer Center, to support translational cancer research. Like other center backers, she has lost both a beloved dog and a cherished family member to cancer.

“I believe in the importance of the One Cure initiative, in the research it supports, and in the hope that it can provide,” Cowan said.

The event was at Chinook Tavern, a restaurant in Greenwood Village owned by Rick and Melissa Westerman, who also have been clients of the Flint Animal Cancer Center and enthusiastically support the One Cure initiative.

Many of the center’s supporters have embraced the One Cure translational concept after witnessing improvements in human cancer treatment that have resulted from treatment modalities first developed for canine patients.

Patient Emily Brown, center, credits a drug therapy developed at the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center with her survival. Flanking her are one of her physicians and Dr. Rod Page, director of the Animal Cancer Center.One such example is provided by a cancer patient named Emily Brown from Colorado Springs: As a 10-year-old, she suffered from bone cancer of the spine. Emily’s pediatric oncologist, at Children’s Hospital Colorado, had run out of standard treatment options; the doctor contacted the Flint Animal Cancer Center, and together the teams adapted a drug therapy developed for dogs, called MTPPE, as a last-ditch approach for Emily.

That was 17 years ago. Emily, her parents, and her doctors have said the treatment designed with help from the CSU Animal Cancer Center saved her life. Learn more here.

The Comparative Oncology Clinical Trials, and two related programs funded by One Cure, formalize the collaborative approach that Emily Brown’s case exemplifies.

“I can find kindred spirits at the Flint Animal Cancer Center to create these multidisciplinary teams that together have the knowledge, expertise and the vision to move the field forward,” Dr. Dan Theodorescu, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, said.

For more information about the One Cure initiative, or to donate, visit this website.