Establishing Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) as a Treatment for Canine Intracranial Glioma

LITT is a relatively new treatment modality that utilizes the thermal energy generated by a small laser probe to ablate image-defined lesions.  In the intracranial compartment, this involves stereotactic placement of the probe into the lesion.  The ablation is conducted within the MRI suite, which allows real-time monitoring of tissue heating and death by continuous operation of the scanner.

This project is a collaboration with Duke neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Fecci and made possible by partnerships with Brainlab, Monteris Medical and ThermoFisher.  Goals of the project are:

  1. To develop LITT as a viable treatment option in dogs with intracranial pathology
  2. To conduct a pilot study of LITT in dogs with gliomas
  3. To monitor the immune response to LITT in tumor-bearing dogs

If you have a dog that may be a candidate for this study, please contact us at

Characterization of the Immune Response and Immunosuppression in Canine Brain Tumors

Dogs with brain tumors share many things in common with their human counterparts, including a high rate of spontaneous tumor development in a shared environment, similar clinical presentations, and similar diagnostic and treatment options.  In addition, many of these canine tumors show a remarkable similarity to human tumors in terms of their histology and molecular pathogenesis.  We are driven to improve diagnostic and therapeutic options for dogs afflicted with these devastating cancers; in addition, the dog can serve as a valuable model system to improve upon the management of humans with brain tumors, in ways not possible with traditional animal models. We are investigating immune system interactions with brain tumors in a number of projects:

  • Characterization of immune cell infiltration in canine intracranial gliomas
  • Characterization of systemic immune suppression in canine gliomas
  • Characterization of immune cell infiltration in canine intracranial meningiomas

Biomarkers of Disease in Canine Neurological Disorders

Our lab is investigating a number of biomarkers within the peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of dogs with brain tumors, inflammatory brain disease, and other nervous system disorders.  Our overarching goals are to improve upon diagnostic options, therapeutic monitoring and markers of prognosis for dogs with these devastating diseases.  Biomarkers we are actively investigating include:

  • Lactate
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
  • Matrix metalloproteinases-2 and -9
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)
  • Phosphoylated neurofilament heavy chain (pNF-H)
  • Neurofilament light chain (NF-L)
  • Cell-free DNA

Utilizing 3D Printing to Improve Canine Neurosurgery

We are interested in using additive manufacturing (and specifically 3D printing) to improve upon the accuracy, efficacy and safety of canine neurosurgery.  Specific projects have included generating patient-specific, 3D printed drill guides for implant placement in canine spinal surgery and the use of 3D printed guides for brain biopsy.  Our main collaborators for these projects are Dr. Ola Harrysson at the Center for Additive Manufacturing and Logistics (CAMAL) at NCSU and Dr. Julien Guevar at the University of Bern.