The Wistar Institute and Man’s Best Friend Therapeutics Announce Partnership to Advance Canine Melanoma Cancer Vaccine

November 17, 2016 – Philadelphia, PA – Companion animals, like their human counterparts, are living longer, healthier lives. Yet one out of every four dogs is diagnosed with cancer. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, affects humans and dogs through exposure to UV light, yet dogs are often left with few treatment options beyond surgery and traditional chemotherapy.

The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, and Man’s Best Friend Therapeutics (MBFT), a Philadelphia-based company focused on the development of therapeutics against cancers in companion animals, are pleased to announce a new collaboration that leverages Wistar’s groundbreaking vaccine research and development with MBFT’s expertise in developing animal health products.

“We are working to advance a canine melanoma vaccine as a personalized, alternative strategy for the prevention and treatment of melanoma in dogs,” said Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D., Caspar Wistar Professor in Vaccine Research and professor in The Wistar Institute Vaccine Center. “As a dog owner myself, I want to put my expertise of vaccine development into further use to create a vaccine for preventing melanoma in our beloved companion pets.”

Out of 40 million well-cared for dogs, approximately 2.5% get cancer each year. Melanoma tumors are generally found in a dog’s mouth or on its feet. They can also originate on skin, in toenail beds, and in the nose. Though surgery is effective if the tumor is removed quickly, melanoma is aggressive and can quickly spread to other organs of the body.

“There is a need among pet owners for affordable therapies because there are very few dog-specific melanoma treatments available,” said Thomas Tillett, President & CEO of Man’s Best Friend Therapeutics. “This is a great opportunity to work with our Wistar partners to produce the first of several effective canine cancer vaccines.”

“We are excited to continue Wistar’s strong tradition of making meaningful contributions to the development of clinically relevant vaccines for people and pets,” said Heather A. Steinman, Ph.D., MBA, Wistar’s Vice President for Business Development and Executive Director of Technology Transfer. “Our collaboration with MBFT will pave the path for a greatly needed clinical solution for our four-legged friends with cancer.”

About MBF Therapeutics: MBFT ( MBFT is a clinical-stage animal health company developing and commercializing proprietary checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy technology for cancer and infectious diseases. T-cell activation precisely targets selected antigens associated with cancer cells or infectious pathogens while preventing T-cell exhaustion, thus, yielding a durable cell-mediated immunity. Exclusively licensed from the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA, and combined with a proprietary nonviral delivery system, this is a platform technology from which multiple innovative products can be developed for veterinary use where cellular antigens are well defined. 

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. Wistar’s Business Development team is dedicated to advancing Wistar Science and Technology Development through creative partnerships.