Monjazeb and KentUC Davis radiation oncologists Arta Monjazeb and Michael Kent, with patient Santino Pinkham in the linear accelerator room of the university’s Center for Companion Animal Health.

The Cancer Immunotherapy Comparative Oncology Team has been awarded the Dean’s Award for Team Excellence. This team consists of a diverse team of investigators across multiple disciplines and campuses at UC Davis. This team has collaborated to revolutionize the bench to bedside process of translating cancer immunotherapy discovery into the clinic. Traditionally promising therapies from mouse studies are translated into the clinic but the vast majority fail because mice fail to accurately recapitulate human disease. In contrast, companion canines live with human owners, have many of the same exposures, and develop complex spontaneous tumors in the setting of an intact immune system which genetically, morphologically, and in clinical behavior closely resemble human disease.  Employing a pre-translational step of testing therapies in canine clinical trials this group is accelerating discovery by limiting human testing of therapies which are unlikely to work or to be tolerated. This approach which they have pioneered is now being heavily invested in by the National Cancer Institute with several grant opportunities released to fund comparative oncology and canine clinical trials in cancer immunotherapy.

This team coordinates complex projects across disciplines and campuses. This group’s success is demonstrated by novel clinical trial concepts which have moved from the bench into the clinic based on success in canine clinical trials. This enterprise is increasing innovation across multiple disciplines and the number of investigators participating in these projects is constantly expanding.  Multiple high impact publications have resulted from this groups work.

Investigators include:
Arta M. Monjazeb – Radiation Oncology
Michael S. Kent – Veterinary Radiation Oncology
William J. Murphy – Dermatology
Robert Canter – Surgical Oncology
Robert Rebhun – Veterinary Medical Oncology
Ellen E. Sparger – Veterinary Pathology
Bill Culp – Veterinary Surgery
Peter J. Dickinson – Veterinary Neurosurgery
Jenna H. Burton – Veterinary Oncology
Danika Bannasch – Veterinary Genomics
John D. McPherson – Genomics
Kevin Keel – Veterinary Pathology
C. Titus Brown – Bioinformatics

Ongoing projects include an NCI P30 supplement to genetically and immunologically characterize canine tumors (project leader – Arta Monjazeb), a canine clinical trial testing a novel cytokine plasmid (PI – Michael Kent), a canine clinical trial testing  adoptive transfer of Natural Killer cells (PI – Robert Canter), two NIH R01 grants examining the efficacy and toxicity of immunotherapy across species (PI – William Murphy) including novel investigations into how age and obesity affect immunotherapy, and a pending NIH U01 testing novel CTEP agents in murine models and canine clinical trials to validate canines as a translational model (PI – Arta Monjazeb).