Clinical Investigation Center

Autologous vaccine for immunotherapy of hemangiosarcoma

Labrador retriever on couchStudy title: Development of an autologous tumor lysate vaccine for immunotherapy of hemangiosarcoma
Current Status:
 Open and enrolling
Principal Investigator: Liz Pluhar, DVM, PhD, DACVS, [email protected]
Contacts: Liz Pluhar (above) or 612-626-8387 (VMC main number)

This is a pilot safety study of an experimental treatment for dogs with hemangiosarcoma. This treatment has been used successfully to treat dogs with brain cancer. We have shown that vaccines made from the dog's own tumor cells have been safely used to treat primary brain tumors, and that vaccines can make immune cells kill hemangiosarcoma cells in the laboratory. 

Selection of participants:

Eligible dogs will have a splenic mass that will be treated by surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) at the University of Minnesota for enrollment in the study. Following removal, if the mass is diagnosed as hemangiosarcoma, the patients will be considered for enrollment. Dogs must weigh more than 7 kg (15 lbs) to be eligible for participation. Preoperative radiographs, ultrasounds, complete blood counts, serum chemistries and urinalyses will help us determine if dogs:

  • have adequate supply of blood cells
  • have no concurrent kidney, liver or heart disease, or problems with blood clotting
  • have no heart-based tumors 

Dogs should not:

  • have had prior spenectomy or lobectomy
  • be taking cyclophosphamide or alternative medications
  • have had previous chemotherapy; however prednisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are OK


  • Splenectomy or lobectomy - we will take a quarter-sized piece of the tumor to grow it in culture and prepare the vaccine. The surgery is not part of the study, the surgery and diagnostic fees are paid by the owner
  • After a confirmation of hemangiosarcoma, the study will provide a CT scan (chest/abdomen) to determine the dog's baseline tumor burden
  • Tumor lysate vaccines: the first vaccine will be given 7-10 days after surgery, then once/week for the first 3 vaccines. After that, we will repeat the vaccination every 4 weeks until a total of 6 vaccines have been, or the tumor recurs. Note: vaccinations following the initial dose can be given at the referring veterinarian.
  • Chemotherapy - the dog will be given an oral chemotherapy agent, cyclophosphamide, in low doses throughout the study (will be taken at home)
  • Follow-up CT scans at 2 months and 6 months after surgery

Costs of the study:

Owners are responsible for the exams, surgery and diagnostic tests. If the dog is eligible for the study, the study pays for the CT scans, visits for vaccines and vaccines themselves, and cyclophosphamide.

For more information, please contact Liz Pluhar.