BACKGROUND:  Glioblastomas are tumors that arise from astrocytes, the star-shaped cells that make up the “glue-like” or supportive tissue of the brain.  These tumors are usually cancerous because the cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a large network of blood vessels.  They are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain.  However, they can also be found on the spinal cord or anywhere in the brain.  There are two types of glioblastomas, primary and secondary.  Primary tumors form and make their presence known quickly.  It is the most aggressive and common type.  Secondary tumors have a longer, slower growth history, but are still very aggressive.  They represent about ten percent of glioblastomas and are usually found in people 45 and younger.  Glioblastomas represent about 17 percent of all primary brain tumors.  They affect more men than women and the risk increases with age.  (Source:


SYMPTOMS:  The most common symptoms are usually caused by increased pressure in the brain.  They can include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and headache.  Patients can develop a variety of other symptoms, like weakness on one side of the body, memory and speech difficulties, and visual changes.  (Source:


TREATMENT:  Glioblastoma can be difficult to treat because the tumors contain so many different types of cells.  Some cells can respond well to certain therapies, while others may not be affected at all.  The first step in treating glioblastoma is a procedure to make a diagnosis, relieve pressure on the brain, and safely remove as much tumor as possible.  Glioblastomas have finger-like tentacles, making it very difficult to remove it.  Radiation and chemotherapy may be used to slow the growth of tumors.  (Source:


NEW TECHNOLOGY:  The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc., awarded the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and Emory University a $119,000 grant over three years to test a newly developed experimental drug to treat dogs with naturally occurring brain tumors, following surgical removal of those tumors.  The goal of the research is to find therapies humans can use.  The tumors in the dogs are called spontaneous gliomas, which are very similar to human brain tumors.  Simon Platt, BVM&S, a Professor of Veterinary Neurology at UGA, performed the surgery and diagnosed Petey with a glioma.  After the surgery, an investigational drug was directly infused into the glioma for three days.  The experimental drug was developed in the Winship Cancer Institute Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory of Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine.  It is FDA-approved monoclonal antibody known as cetuximab, attached to an iron-oxide magnetic nanoparticle. 

"We have translated this agent to canines with spontaneous gliomas to study its safety and feasibility," Dr. Hadjipanayis was quoted as saying.  "By targeting the same receptor in canine gliomas that is over-expressed in human brain cancer, known as glioblastoma (GBM), we hope to have a clearer picture of the safety and therapeutic efficacy of the agent." (Source:



Bottom of Form


Simon Platt BVM&S MRCVS
Dipl. ACVIM (Neurology) Dipl. ECVN
Professor Neurology & Neurosurgery Service

Department of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery

College of Veterinary Medicine

University of Georgia