Avery August, PhD and Bettina Wagner, DVM, Dr. vet. med. habil.

Monoclonal antibodies against feline PD-1 (CD279) as potential immunotherapeutic agents for feline cancers

Avery August, PhD and Bettina Wagner, DVM, Dr. vet. med. habil.

In recent years, immune therapy has proven to be effective in treating a variety of different forms of cancer in humans. Dr. Avery August and Dr. Bettina Wagner have made inroads to applying this type of approach to treating feline cancer, empowering a cat’s immune system to fight cancer cells.

bettinawagner-cvm-felinehealthcenterThe key to the work is T cells, warriors of the immune system that specifically attack and kill cancer cells and foreign microorganisms. However, after a period of time, T cells are deactivated by a protein called PD-1, which slows or stops the ability of T cells to fight cancer. By immunizing mice with feline PD-1, August and Wagner created antibodies against PD-1 that will allow these T cells to keep working. They’re working now to characterize these antibodies and plan to work with veterinarians at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals to set up a trial for testing the treatment.

August and Wagner are also attempting an approach to immunotherapy in which they create molecules to cover up the receptor on T cells that allows them to be shut down, thus allowing the T cells to continue to work at fighting cancer cells. They have created the molecules to get the job done and are in the process of testing their effectiveness at freeing up T cells.