TGen goes commercial with pet cancer detection tool

Phoenix-based TGen announced the commercial launch of Vidium Animal Health, offering genetic diagnostic tools for veterinary oncologists and “pet parents” to better detect, diagnose and treat cancer in dogs.

The company’s official start comes after more than a decade of researchers pioneering the study of naturally occurring cancer in dogs to develop genomic-based precision-medicine for veterinary oncologists and pet owners.

“Vidium is built around the human-animal bond, as the majority of pet parents consider their dog part of their family,” said Vidium president and veterinarian David Haworth. “When a pet is diagnosed with cancer, it can be a really scary time for everyone, so we want to offer the very best information, and hope, that science can offer.”

Cancer is the number one killer of pets. Approximately, one in three dogs get the disease. 

Now, with Vidium’s SearchLight DNA test, veterinarian oncologists and pathologists can more quickly and accurately diagnose cancers, deliver a prognosis and identify therapies.  

Mutations provide clues to cancer types and appropriate treatment

Vidium’s SearchLight DNA can find mutations in the DNA of a pet’s cancer cells to guide veterinarians in understanding a cancer’s origin, its behavior and the optimal approach to its treatment, according to the company’s website.

Not all cancers are recognizable to trained pathologists and oncologists who diagnose and treat them, but sometimes mutations in a cancer can guide diagnosis, which is a key part of understanding what a tumor will do in an animal’s body.  

To increase a pet’s chance of survival, the SearchLight DNA test can identify any of the nearly 120 known cancer-associated genetic mutations in dogs and use the molecular profile of misbehaving genes to help guide diagnosis and treatment. Some mutations only occur in specific cancer types or subtypes, so their detection can aid veterinary teams in identifying the cancer types.

Reports generated for clinicians and pet owners 

From a sample of the pet’s tumor, Vidium uses custom sequencing technology and a proprietary genomic knowledge database built on clinical and scientific publications to generate a report for the veterinarian and pet parents. The report describes all the mutations found in the dog’s tumor, summarizes what’s currently known about the association of those mutations with cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment, and identifies relevant clinical trials.

SearchLight DNA reports are customized with technical language for clinicians and easier-to-understand lay language for pet owners that fully communicates the details of their pet’s condition. 

Future goal is to expand to other animals and diseases 

While Vidium’s efforts will initially be put toward canine cancer, its goal is to expand its genomic analysis to the treatment of other animals and diseases.

Beyond assisting with the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of dogs with cancer, Vidium will play a continuing role in the discovery of new associations between gene mutations, specific types of cancers in specific breeds of dogs, and clinical outcomes, said Vidium Founder and Chief Science Officer Will Hendricks, an assistant professor in TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division. 

Will Hendricks

“We are going to play an active role in changing the landscape of veterinary care, both through expanding our understanding of genetic biomarkers, and by facilitating access to targeted therapeutics that may make a difference in specific genetic settings,” Dr. Hendricks said.

Filling a void in pet treatment 

Katie Banovich, Vidium’s director of operations, said the absence of genomic technology in the care of pets is a tremendous void that Vidium hopes to fill.

“Through application of multi-disciplinary genomic science, we want to position Vidium as a partner in the veterinary care team,” Banovich said. “We want to be a guide. We want to work with veterinarians.”

To read more about Vidium Animal Health, which is a subsidiary of TGen, visit: Vidium

About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix-based nonprofit dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. For more info, visit: TGen.

Victoria Harker

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