The Perseus Foundation

Researching Cures. Saving Lives.

 Collaboration between  Ethos Discovery  and The Perseus Foundation

Slaying the Dragon: Hemangiosarcoma 

Fall 2019

The genomic platform to detect tumor mutations in tissue samples has been developed; however additional laboratory studies are needed to transfer this technology to the analysis of blood samples. Based on the success of the Ethos team in conducting such studies using human samples, we expect rapid validation of this approach for dogs.

Funding for the initial phase of liquid biopsy development has been provided as a lead gift. We are now seeking matching funds to characterize the circulating DNA in affected dogs. This technology also has the potential for use in many other cancers, thus allowing the creation of a portfolio of liquid biopsy detection of cancer in dogs.


Canine hemangiosarcoma is a very aggressive and common cancer that spreads (i.e. metastasizes) quickly and has a poor overall prognosis. Derived from endothelial cells (blood vessel cells), it shares many similarities with the aggressive human cancer angiosarcoma. Canine hemangiosarcoma can develop in any part of the body but most commonly arises in the spleen. It is often discovered during an emergency visit caused by a splenic tumor rupture and internal bleeding. 

A splenectomy, removing the spleen, is an initial treatment with survival times ranging from 30-90 days after surgery. Survival in dogs following splenectomy is often limited due to the metastasis of the cancer to other parts of the body. Numerous studies have evaluated the use of chemotherapy along with surgery and reported survival times ranging from 140 to 202 days. However, even with chemotherapy, in most dogs the cancer continues to spread. New treatments to improve quality of life and prolong overall survival are clearly needed. Because removal of the spleen is a common part of clinical care, there is an opportunity to collect tissue and blood samples to understand the genomic features of this tumor and potentially deliver improved treatment outcomes.


This project seeks to cure canine hemangiosarcoma through advanced diagnostics, personalized medicine, and cancer genomics.

Precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, involves the use of genomic  analysis of tumors or other patient samples (i.e. cell free tumor DNA circulating in the blood) to identify disease targets that can be matched to specific treatments. The intent of precision medicine is to halt cancer spread by stopping molecular events that lead to disease progression and therefore improve patient outcomes. The promise of this approach to cancer therapy has been suggested in recent human studies and is under evaluation in several prospective human trials; put simply, treating cancer is not “one size fits all.”

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