Dogs didn’t earn the title of “human’s best friend” by mistake. Their unconditional love for us seems boundless, and because of that, we love them like family. Sometimes like our own children. As dog owners, nothing is scarier than hearing that they are seriously ill, or worse — they have cancer.
A devastating disease
Unfortunately, cancer is far too common in the dog world.
It’s a sad fact that 6 million dogs die every year from cancer in the USA alone. It affects all sizes of dogs, and all ages of dogs. And if you’ve had more than one dog in your life, the odds are almost certain that you’ve lost one to cancer.
Depending on the breed, a dog is likely to be more prone to a specific set of cancers. For example, large dog breeds like Great Danes are prone to cancer of the bones (osteosarcoma). Boston terriers and boxers of the “short-nosed” breeds are prone to brain cancer (gliomas). Labradors and golden retrievers are prone to blood cancer (lymphomas).
Because dogs and humans can develop the same types of cancer, most dogs are treated with the same chemotherapies and radiation as humans. Unfortunately, some are outdated and very expensive. If your mastiff gets osteosarcoma, for example, the first thing that is done to help the dog is to amputate their limb and follow that with a regimen of expensive radiation and chemotherapies. This treatment can cost anywhere from $5k-15k (or more!).
Or if your Labrador or border collie gets lymphoma, you would need to take your dog to 12-16 treatment sessions with the vet for chemotherapies that can cost $7k-12k, depending on where you live. This treatment regimen, called CHOP, was originally developed for humans in the 1970s and 80s, and first applied to dogs in the early 1990s.
Without CHOP, your dog may only live for 30 days after a diagnosis. With CHOP, the life expectancy of dogs has been pegged at about 10-12 months of life. Yes, that’s right, for our precious dogs to live another year, it will cost us about $10,000.
Isn’t there something more we can do for our family members?
A better way for our best friends
Realizing that there are better and cost-effective ways to help with this problem, LEAH Labs is working hard to make cancer a little less scary for us and our beloved pets. By bringing technology to the dog world, LEAH Labs is making breakthroughs that have never before been possible.
How did this come to be?
A few years ago, LEAH Labs’ founder, Dr. Wes Wierson, brought his dog Layla to a doctor who diagnosed her with cancer. The oncologist that examined her thought she had a type of skin cancer called “mast cell disease” on her lower jaw. The solution? Surgical removal of half of her jaw, followed by $3,000 in chemotherapy. Luckily, Layla was misdiagnosed and only had a skin infection.
However, that day served as an eye-opener for Dr. Wierson. It made him realize how far behind cancer therapy was for our pets, and he wanted to find a way to remedy this. To make sure our pets can live better, longer lives without the need for drastic and costly treatments.
LEAH Labs realized that they could use a breakthrough technology that may some day be able to cure cancer in dogs, not just delay its effects.
This technology is called Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. CAR T-cell therapy relies on genetic reprogramming of T immune cells (that are found in all of us and our pet dogs!) with the genetic information encoding a CAR. This allows CAR T cells to seek out cancer, recognize it like a lock and key, and then destroy it.
CAR T cells are FDA approved for several cancers in humans, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It can cure human patients who are on their deathbeds after failing all other options.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a clinical counterpart of canine B cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that kills at least 250,000 dogs every single year. The best option for dogs with B cell lymphoma right now is CHOP chemotherapy. But because CAR T cells work so well for this type of cancer in humans, it is believed they will be able to help dogs, too.
That is why LEAH Labs is forging a path that no other company has done before.
You can help LEAH Labs bring CAR T cells to dogs
LEAH Labs is a startup that requires investors to help them build their company and bring life-saving treatments to dogs. Historically, startups raise money from wealthy angel investors, venture capitalists, or private banks who invest in the company for a percentage of ownership and return on investment. Only “the 1%” has been able to invest in startups in the past.
But now you can invest, too!
LEAH Labs is taking investment for their business on Wefunder, the leading Equity Crowdfunding website. Equity Crowdfunding is a relatively new way for startups to raise money. It’s like Kickstarter, except that instead of investing in a project so you can get a good deal on a new gadget, your investment actually buys ownership in the company. This means that ANYONE can now invest in startups building products they wish existed in the world.
If you believe in LEAH Labs’ vision to revolutionize therapies for our furry family members, you can invest in their company and share in their success. The amount you invest brings LEAH Labs closer to a true and reliable treatment for dog cancer, and for many more years spent with our loyal companions.
As of today, over 1,000 dog lovers, technology enthusiasts, and experienced investors have pledged their support to LEAH Labs.
Here’s a few examples of why people have invested:
“We lost three greyhounds to cancer. If this money helps to provide a survivable treatment for canine cancer, it is well spent.”
“Dog lover, potential user, and believe dogs are family and your solution can bring a lot of joy to many homes and canines.”
“Seems like a great identification of a market. Google and you’ll read a lot about efforts to test gene therapy in dogs to eventually help humans — but what about owners who want to help their pets?”
“I think dogs deserve cancer cures as well as humans. Personalized medicine seems like the best treatment option.”
Human’s best science for human’s best friend
If you believe that dogs are family, and that they deserve the best possible treatment when they’re sick (just like their owners), then check out LEAH Labs on Wefunder.
Help LEAH Labs bring human’s best science to human’s best friend.
It just might save a dog you love someday.