Targeting Tec kinase to enhance anti-tumor activity of feline CD8+ cells

Avery August, PhD

Cancer, a condition defined by abnormal control of cell growth, is a major cause of feline illness. Between 0.1 and 0.5% of all cats in the general population carry some cancer, and in most cases, cats diagnosed with cancer will have shorter lifespans and lower quality of life than their cancer-free counterparts. While a variety of therapeutic options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, have been helpful in improving the lifespans and quality of life of feline cancer patients, their effectiveness is often limited by side-effects, a lack of understanding of mechanisms of cancer growth, the requirement for anesthesia, or cost.

Recently, the prospect of recruiting a patient’s immune system to treat cancer has shown promise as a new tool in our ability to treat patients. This project is investigating the possibility of modifying the activity of a protein called Tec kinase in the immune cells of cats in an effort to increase their ability to target and destroy a variety of feline cancers.