News Feature | March 26, 2014

University of Florida Researchers Say Gold-Based Drug Shows Promise

By Marcus Johnson

Researchers at the University of Florida have been working on a treatment for osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer that affects both humans and dogs. Researchers determined that the drug aurothiomalate, or gold salts, helped to stop cancer cells from forming. Dr. Valery Scharf, the lead researcher in the study, believes that the study is promising, but more studies are needed before there is an opportunity for drug development.

“We also were able to demonstrate that the drug slows tumor growth and decreases metastasis when canine bone tumors were created in a mouse model,” said Scharf. “This study shows that there is potential promise for the role of gold drugs as a part of bone cancer treatment in dogs and potentially in people, although more studies are needed before we can use them in a clinical setting.”

Osteosarcoma is one of the most common bone cancers found in dogs. The disease also affects humans, but usually only occurs in people aged 25 or younger. Gold based drugs are used in veterinary medicine relatively often because of the anti-inflammatory properties. Scharf believes that some of those properties could transfer to humans. “Osteosarcoma is a frustrating disease, as you can treat the local tumor, but the metastasis is something there is no effective means of preventing,” Scharf said. “One of the interesting things to me in studying oncology and our pets is that their disease often translates to human disease as well. Therefore, research on the animal side can potentially translate to human medicine as well.”