FDA approves anti-cancer drug for dogs created by CSU start-up

Tony Villalobos

VetDC. Inc, a Fort Collins-based company, has received conditional approval by the Federal Drug Administration for the first drug that will treat canine lymphoma.

The drug, Tanovea- CA1, works to eliminate lymphoma cells in dogs in order to extend their life.


VetDC Inc, which is originally a startup company from Colorado State University, began nearly 10 years ago.

Tanovea-CA1 has gone through clinical trials for animal patients and brings new possibilities for canine lymphoma.

“This is a huge milestone for us,” said Steven Roy, VetDC President and CEO. “This is the first drug ever approved by the FDA for dogs with lymphoma.”

VetDC worked closely with veterinarians from CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer center as key advisors to determine the best use of Tanovea-CA1 in companion animals, and helped treat canine cancer patients whose cases evidenced the drug’s compelling anti-cancer activity.

Lymphoma, one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs, can kill dogs within several months if they are not treated. Tanovea-CA1 is the first drug ever approved by the FDA that would treat lymphoma in dogs, putting the cancer in remission to prolong the dog’s life.

VetDC hopes to release Tanovea into the public this spring, and is currently pursuing manufacturing options. Tanovea will be sold to veterinarians once it is put into circulation.

The “CA1” in Tanovea-CA1 refers to the conditional approval of the drug. The drug is only intended for small animals, like ferrets or fish, or for minor uses in major species, such as lymphoma in dogs, who are eligible for conditional approval.

The drug’s conditional approval means that when used, the drug is safe and has “a reasonable expectation of effectiveness,” according to an press release by the FDA.

The conditional approval is valid for one year, and VetDC may ask the FDA to renew the conditional approval for four more years. To receive a full approval from the FDA, the company must demonstrate a substantial evidence of effectiveness, typically through a pivotal study.

VetDC is still conducting some clinical trials at this time.


Tanovea-CA1 has been in development for five years, and was originally licensed from Gillead Sciences.

More than 100 dogs were treated with Tanovea since 2011, and 350 were treated nationwide.

VetDC will continue exploring Tanoveas benefits in cats and other animals, Their main focus right now is to get Tanovea in veterinarians hands.

“This is very exciting for the entire veterinary community” Roy said.

Collegian reporter Tony Villalobos May can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheTonyVM.