Database lists clinical studies on cannabis, cancer, more

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Cannabis is just one focus of current clinical trials involving animals, with others focusing on treatments such as stem cells and monoclonal antibodies.

"Veterinary clinical studies conducted to investigate novel therapies or to collect samples or information to gain further understanding of a disease provide the best scientific evidence to guide the clinical care of animals, and oftentimes, people too," according to the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database site.

Dr. Packer and Ms. Lowery examine Nani
Dr. Rebecca Packer, associate professor of clinical sciences at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Dr. Isabella Lowery, then a veterinary student, examine Nani, a Border Collie participating in a clinical trial of a glioma vaccine. (Courtesy of Colorado State University Photography)

The AVMA launched the web-based database two years ago for researchers seeking animals to participate in clinical studies and for veterinarians and animal owners exploring options for treatment. As of July 2, the database listed 371 studies for dogs, cats, horses, agricultural animals, and rabbits in 17 fields of veterinary medicine—including a trial on cannabis use at Colorado State University. The site has about 2,000 searches per month.

Ahead of the launch, the Veterinary Cancer Society had transferred all the studies from its Veterinary Cancer Trials website into the AVMA database. The top nine search terms on the AVMA site relate to cancer, either a type of cancer or a cancer treatment. "Diabetes" rounds out the top 10 search terms.

"The database is humming along," said Dr. Ed Murphey, an assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division.

He said the AVMA has been making a variety of revisions to increase user friendliness for researchers who list studies and for curators of the site. The AVMA also is looking at how to increase public awareness of the database, ranging from marketing efforts to optimization for search engines.

Dr. Sue VandeWoude is a member of the AVMA Council on Research and associate dean for research at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She has been providing input on the database and trying to help get the word out about the resource to research centers, private practitioners, and the general public.

The way to move the needle forward in medical research is to engage in a clinical trial, Dr. VandeWoude said. She has seen an improvement in the sophistication of veterinary clinical trials over the past decade, alongside a growing appreciation of the idea of using research in animals to improve human health.

Dr. VandeWoude continued, "We see clients, and a lot of times they'll understand their animal has a terminal disease, and this is not necessarily going to cure them, but it is going to provide information for the next generation of dogs and cats that may benefit from what's learned in the clinical trials."

Related JAVMA content:

At a year, AVMA database amassing clinical studies (July 1, 2017)

AVMA launches database of clinical studies (July 15, 2016)