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ONCEPT® is a therapeutic cancer vaccine for melanoma in dogs that was developed by Merial under a license from Vical. This vaccine, designed to extend the survival time of dogs with oral melanoma, was the first approved therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of cancer — in either animals or humans. Most vaccines for infectious diseases stimulate an immune response directed against foreign proteins. Tyrosinase, a protein present on canine melanoma cells, is not usually targeted by the dog’s immune system because it is also present on normal canine cells.

ONCEPT® is thought to train the immune system to recognize this cancer-associated protein as a threat to the dog’s health. The vaccine is produced with a non-canine gene for tyrosinase inserted in a small ring of DNA. This foreign tyrosinase is different enough from canine tyrosinase to break through the dog’s tolerance of a self-tumor, so it induces a strong and active immune response.

This new therapeutic vaccine is manufactured by Merial, a world leader in animal health and the maker of many canine vaccines. For more information on the vaccine, please contact the ONCEPT® website.

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