KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A clinical trial is underway in East Tennessee that could save lives in cats with cancer.
One beautiful gray cat named Griege just graduated from the clinical trial at Animal Emergency and Specialty Center in West Knoxville.
She's been part of Linda Wallace's family for 17 years, most of them healthy years.
But recently, Griege showed some troubling symptoms.
"She actually developed thyroid disease and got very thin and when she got very thin, then we could see she had this tumor on her hip," Wallace said.
She brought her pet to be checked out at the AESC where Dr. Jeff Phillips confirmed the bad news, but offered hope through a new clinical trial.
The tumor on Griege's hip turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer called feline fibrosarcoma. It's a type of cancer that can be triggered by some vaccines.
Dr. Phillips says surgery to remove the malignant tumor is not enough.
"This is horrible," Dr. Phillips told 6 News. "The standard treatment is surgical resection, but even with the best surgeon in the world, the average cat has a regrowth of their tumor within nine months."
That's why the AESC is part of a clinical trial of immunotherapy using feline interleukin-2. A form of the drug is already used in the treatment of some types of cancer in people, like melanoma, and kidney cancer.
Griege just had her last round of interleukin-2 for the study. So far, Wallace said her beloved pet was responding well.
"She has been fabulous," said Wallace. "She has had no side effects at all. Just nothing. I mean, you wouldn't even know she had any treatment."
To find out if your cat qualifies for the study, call the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center at 865-693-4440.
The clinical trial itself is free of charge. It does not include surgery to remove tumors.