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Development News by Laura Gerik and Dr. Megan Palsa

A Second Chance for Charlette

When Mark Cone first noticed the small knot on Charlette’s hip in 2014, he wasn’t overly concerned. The 11-year-old chocolate Labrador didn’t seem bothered by the lump, and the local veterinarian didn’t say anything about it during Charlette’s routine exams. However, in mid-2015, everything changed. The knot quickly grew larger and Charlette started biting at it. Soon, the mass was an angry pink—hairless, infected, and ulcerated. The Cones knew something was terribly wrong. This prompted another trip to the local veterinarian, but this time he suggested surgery. Not quite convinced this was the best option for Charlette or the family, Mark’s wife, Diane, decided to call the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital for a second opinion. As it turned out, Dr. Heather WilsonRobles, associate professor of oncology and the Dr. Fred A. and Vola N. Palmer Chair in Comparative Oncology, happened to be conducting a study of a new drug for grade II or grade III mast cell tumors that had either returned after surgery alone or had never been treated. Charlette looked like a candidate. Wary of invasive surgical techniques, the Cones were relieved to have a new option for their dog. “This trial focuses on investigating a novel drug, which is a mitochondrial toxin. The mitochondria are the engines of the cell, so those cells with an increased metabolic rate, like cancer cells, are most sensitive to this drug. Additionally, this drug is very sparing of the other cells in the body so we have seen almost no side effects to the drug so far,” explained WilsonRobles. The same drug—dubbed RC2Beta—is also being used for lymphoma in dogs. After initial laboratory work confirmed that Charlette had a grade II mast cell tumor and was otherwise in good health, the Labrador began treatment. For 13 weeks, Mark drove Charlette from Waller to College Station for weekly infusions. For Mark, the 45-minute commute wasn’t a problem—he had to do it anyway. For the past 11 years, Mark has 102 •

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Mark Cone and Charlette worked for Kone Elevators, servicing the elevators around Texas A&M’s campus. Charlette simply came along for the ride. Mark could drop her off in the morning, go to work, and then collect her at the end of the day. Mark was grateful for the convenience and excellent service from the Small Animal Hospital staff. “I love it here. I love this college and the veterinarians. I haven’t had a bad incident with the CVM staff at all,” he said. “They call me, and they tell me that Charlette’s ready. If I say, ‘Well, I’m tied up on some stuff,’ then they say, ‘That’s fine. She’ll be ready to go when you get here.’ They take good care of her.” So far, Charlette’s treatment has been successful. “She went through all the treatments just great,” Mark said. “No problems whatsoever; no side effects or anything. It never knocked her down at all.” By the end of the 13 weeks, Charlette was in remission.

“She tolerated the treatment beautifully,” Wilson-Robles said. Since then, Mark has brought Charlette back for monthly checkups, and she has maintained a clean bill of health. Her hip looks normal again—covered with chocolate fur and showing no sign of the mass. The study is currently accepting dogs of any stage, including metastasis, with grade II or grade III mast cell tumors that may be recurrent after surgery but that may not have received any previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy. For interested clients, the cost of study participation is covered. However, the tests to determine eligibility, including a biopsy of the mass to confirm grade, are performed at the owner’s expense. For more information regarding this trial or a patient’s eligibility, please contact Wilson-Robles or Dr. Carissa Wood at 979-845-2351 or oncology@cvm.tamu.edu.

CVM Today - Winter 2017  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...

CVM Today - Winter 2017  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...