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Research could mean longer lives for cats with cancer

14 November, 2019

New research could mean better, longer lives for cats with cancer

Research funded by Healthy Pets New Zealand (HPNZ) that could lead to new treatment options to extend the lives of cats with cancer in New Zealand has been published in a world-leading journal.

The research used immunohistochemistry, a technique common in human oncology, to develop ways to more accurately predict the life expectancy of cats with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

A very common mouth cancer in cats, SCC afflicts thousands of cats in New Zealand every year.

John Munday, Professor in Veterinary Pathobiology at Massey University’s School of Veterinary Science, found that cats with SCC that also tested positive for the p16 immunohistochemistry marker were, on average, likely to live more than twice as long as those without the same marker.

His research was published recently in The Veterinary Journal, a world-leading academic journal.

"Testing for the marker soon after diagnosis could help veterinarians better understand which cats would likely benefit from treatment, and could offer cat owners more treatment options," he says.

HPNZ Director Cath Watson says Professor Munday’s work is one of many projects supported by the charity, which has been funding research to help improve the lives of New Zealand pets since 1988. Founded as the Companion Animal Health Foundation, HPNZ is being re-launched on Saturday 16 November at the Wellington Pet and Animal Expo 2019, and with a gold coin donation dog walk near Invercargill.

"There is little public funding to support research into companion animal health and welfare in New Zealand. That’s why we’re calling on Kiwis who care about pets to get behind this important work."

HPNZ is supported by veterinary clinics, including the Vet Centre Marlborough, Waikiwi Vets (Invercargill), and Tauranga Vets. With their clients, each has made generous donations to HPNZ.

"I’d like to thank our generous supporters, who have enabled us to fund diverse research, which has increased veterinary science knowledge and led to better care and health for Kiwi pets," says Cath.

Research funded by HPNZ includes an investigation into patterns of antibiotic use in pets, and a canine hip dysplasia project that led to an improved diagnostic tool and better breeder education.

"We know Kiwi pets are valued members of the family. We hope to fund much more of this important research so future generations of Kiwi pets can live longer, happier and healthy lives. "The more we raise, the bigger impact we can have. That’s why we’re asking Kiwis who care to support us. It doesn’t matter if it’s one dollar or a thousand dollars - every cent counts," she says.

Kiwis who want to help improve the lives of pets in New Zealand can donate online via Give-a-little.

About Healthy Pets New Zealand

Supported by the New Zealand Veterinary Association, HPNZ is a charity that funds research and investigation into the big issues facing New Zealand companion animals. HPNZ aims to increase the scientific body of knowledge to support improved care, and new diagnostic investigation and treatment options for pets in New Zealand. HPNZ also supports research into the value of pets to society, the human-pet bond, and aims to communicate its most important findings to the public.

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