PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s cancer therapy research efforts have received a renewed 3-year grant for more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The research known as the Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) Program is led by professor Patrick R. Gavin, a veterinary radiation oncologist.
“The continued funding from the Department of Energy for WSU’s contribution to this important work is testament to the value it holds for society and the successes radiation oncology has had especially in the last decade,” said Gavin. “We are grateful to the agency and realize our enormous responsibility for accountability of public funding for advanced cancer therapy research.”
In the first year of the renewed grant, $350,000 will be provided and, contingent upon the availability of funds and progress of the research, the remaining two years will be funded annually.
BNCT is used to treat naturally occurring brain tumors and non-small cell lung cancer in dogs. Afflicted dogs are injected with a boron compound that is later activated by a neutron beam. The treatment is designed to destroy the cancer without harming surrounding tissue.
More than 100 dogs have been through the program since 1986. One of the more remarkable successes was that of a dog named Brandy from western Washington who went through treatment and went on to live a normal life for nearly five additional years.
Current therapy research in dogs is important to the treatment of similar cancers in humans. There are four medical facilities in the world using human patients in BNCT programs. WSU research findings have directly contributed to the use of BNCT in humans.
“The beauty of this research is that we have been able to provide important information and at the same time help animals,” said Gavin.

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