The founders of Torigen have developed a revolutionary immunotherapy treatment that’s effectively treating cancer in dogs and cats.
Our dogs and cats are integral members of the family, so it’s devastating when they get sick. Dr. Mark Suckow experienced this gut-wrenching feeling in 2010 when his family dog, Sadie, was diagnosed with cancer. But out of the despair came a revolutionary treatment. As a veterinarian and cancer researcher, Dr. Suckow was studying how to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. His daughters convinced him to use this knowledge to develop a personalized treatment for Sadie. To their pleasant surprise, it caused Sadie’s tumors to recede and eventually disappear. This success inspired Dr. Suckow to launch Torigen® Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on bringing innovative immunotherapy treatments to the veterinary market.
What is immunotherapy?
The body has natural defense mechanisms, but cancer cells can fool it into thinking those cells are normal. To prevent this from happening, Torigen takes a small piece of an animal’s tumor and turns it into a vaccine. Given weekly to the animal over the course of three weeks, the vaccine re-educates the body’s immune system to recognize cancer as foreign and attack it. Although still new to the pet industry, this promising product has shown to reduce and even eliminate 40 different cancerous tumors in over 600 patients.
With approximately eight million pets developing cancer every year in the US alone, immunotherapy could be a game changer. The Torigen Autologous Prescription Product typically costs significantly less than traditional cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, and also avoids the associated side effects. Torigen’s product has shown equivalent outcomes to chemotherapy in several tumor types, including spleen and bladder tumors. “Immunotherapy, specifically our personalized vaccine, presents an opportunity to provide affordable and flexible cancer treatments,” says Ashley Kalinauskas, Torigen co-founder and CEO.
The Torigen Autologous Prescription Product is currently available by prescription to US veterinarians, allowing animal patients to receive treatment at their local clinics instead of being taken to specialty centers. Because it can be used to encourage cancer immunity, the vaccine could be the solution for dog and cat parents who are on the fence about surgically removing their animals’ tumors. It’s also a promising option for animals recovering from cancer surgery, since it can help prevent the disease from returning.
Next steps: human medicine
Mark understands firsthand how emotionally draining it can be to watch a beloved dog or cat battle cancer. That’s why the Torigen team is working to make the process easier for both animals and the guardians. “We’re here to support veterinarians and pet owners at every step, even with post-treatment care and follow-up,” he says. But their goal stretches beyond the veterinary world. “We hope to help in the fight against human as well as animal cancer,” says Ashley. “We’ll continue striving towards tackling cancers, building on years of existing scientific research, and pushing the boundaries of innovation.”
Notice! For experimental use only. Autologous Prescription Products created by Torigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are regulated by the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics. For use under supervision/prescription of a licensed veterinarian. Safety and efficacy have not been established.