Canine brain tumor trials: Glioma

Liz Pluhar and team conducting brain surgery on a dog


Status: Open and enrolling
Principal Investigator: 
Liz Pluhar
Michael Olin
Associate Professor
Contact: I'm Interested

Purpose of study

The goal of the Canine Brain Tumor Clinical Trial Program is to offer cutting edge therapy to dogs intended to preserve quality of life and improve long-term survival rates. Additionally, we will use the information gained from treating dogs to design similar treatments for people with brain tumors. The majority of the costs associated with these experimental brain tumor therapies are paid for by grants from foundation and government agencies including the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the American Brain Tumor Association and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.

Eligibility criteria

Dogs with glioma, as seen on MRI. 

  • If you live near the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), your dog can have the MRI here. Please call 612-626-8387 to request an appointment with the Neurology Service to schedule this or your veterinarian can request the MRI using the AVID Service.

  • From other locations, please obtain an MRI at a Neurology clinic in your area. Once complete, we would like a copy of the images and report sent here, or if the Neurology clinic can do a 'DICOM' transfer, we will accept that (if the clinic can do this, they will know what that means). Please have them contact the CIC for instructions. To send by mail or FedEx, please use this address:

Dr. Liz Pluhar
College of Veterinary Medicine
339 Veterinary Medical Center
1352 Boyd Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


There are several different treatments being compared, including: surgery followed by vaccine-based immunotherapy, surgery followed by oncolytic virus therapy, surgery followed by IL-12 gene therapy, sonodynamic therapy (ultrasound) followed by surgery.


Most visits performed here at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center will have the costs covered by the studies.

Study update

We have treated over 200 dogs, and are still collecting data to be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the therapies. However, we have found that dogs with low-grade glioma respond well to the combination of surgery and immunotherapy, and we are prolonging the disease free interval for dogs with high-grade glioma while providing an excellent quality of life.