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  • Project DM

The NIH gets behind a new strategy to study canine degenerative myelopathy


A group of veterinarians and researchers from the University of Missouri, The Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, and Tufts University were recently awarded an R21 from the National Institutes of Health/NCATS to study a new way of designing clinical trials for dogs with degenerative myelopathy (DM).

You might wonder why the NIH, which focuses on human health, would be interested in this project. The answer is that dogs with DM can teach us a lot about people with a similar disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Some genetic and clinical similarities between dogs and people with the two diseases are striking, and while there are also some important differences, learning more about DM and how it responds to certain treatments not only benefits man's best friend but it also stands to help his human counterpart fight what is up to now a universally fatal disease.


The goal of the project is to develop a platform trial for canine DM that can be used to screen treatments that show promise in the laboratory setting to determine which ones show a positive effect to treat disease in dogs. The platform trial design barrows from recent innovative studies on the human health front, such as the I-SPY2 breast cancer trial, to bring cutting edge trial design features to the veterinary clinic. Learn more about the project here.

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