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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Cooper Helped ‘Pioneer’ New Cancer Treatment

January 13th, 2016
Cooper leaves a legacy of cancer treatment data and community support.

Cooper leaves a legacy of cancer treatment data and community support.

Cooper LaBrocca was the first dog to benefit from the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s new intraoperative radiotherapy system (IOS). In July 2014, Dr. Katy Townsend removed a squamous cell tumor that was invading the bone in his upper jaw; before closing his incision, the tumor bed was radiated to kill as many cancer cells as possible.

The surgery went well and Cooper went home to his family in Medford. “True to Cooper’s happy, loving spirit, he rebounded from his jaw surgery at OSU, and enjoyed nearly two years of playing with this toys and going for walks,” says his owner, Nora LaBrocca.

In August of this year, Cooper’s spleen was removed, and he once again recovered like a champ. “He was better than new, and actually doing things I forgot he could do,” says LaBrocca. Unfortunately, the cancer in his spleen had spread to his kidneys and liver, and Cooper passed away in October.

Cooper’s surgery at OSU, along with the eight other pets who have received treatment with the IOS, will provide important data for studying the efficacy of the new system. This is a legacy that Cooper’s owners value as they cope with their loss. “There is nothing we would not have done for our little boy,” she says, “I am grateful I was blessed with his presence in my life.”

CookiesCooper’s legacy also lives on at LaBrocca’s Downtown Market in Medford, where you can buy Cooper’s Cookies and help animals in need: one dollar of each bag sold is donated to the Jackson County Animal Shelter.

The cookies are made for dogs, but sound good enough for humans to eat. Nora LaBrocca developed the recipe of ground beef, applewood smoke bacon, gluten free flour, cornmeal, and egg because Cooper had food and environmental allergies. “He absolutely loved them; who wouldn’t?” she says.

With his irresistible charm and kind heart, Cooper made many friends during his stay at the hospital, and he will be remembered fondly by everyone he met. “I am grateful I was blessed with his presence in my life. He will always be my hero and we will miss him every moment of every day,” says LaBrocca.

A Short History of the VDL

January 7th, 2016
Additions to the VRL building over the years. In 1965, a carcass incinerator was also added.

Additions to the VRL building over the years. In 1965, a carcass incinerator was added (yellow). In 1972, a research wing was added (red).

In 1951, OSU built the Veterinary Research Laboratory (VRL), a no-frills, one-story, brick building that operated as a part of the College of Agriculture. Eight years later, three small laboratories were added to the building to house the new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL).

By 1975, the VDL included a couple of pathologists, a necropsy room, and bacteriology and histology labs. “Serology was run by the bacteriology lab on bacterial agents, and a few viral agents,” says Rocky Baker, current virology lab supervisor.

When the VDL moved into the newly completed Magruder Hall in 1981, it was comprised of four pathologists, virology, bacteriology, histology, clinical pathology, and necropsy. The VDL director was Dr. Jack Schmitz, with Dr. Don Mattson as the virology section head. “The area for virology was very cramped,” says Baker. “They under-planned that space.” So, three years later, virology was moved back into the VRL building.

In 1997, Baker attended training in Molecular Diagnostics at the Auburn Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and began running a few PCR tests. In 2006, PCR testing was organized under the new Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, with Donna Mulrooney appointed as the lab supervisor.

Various additions were added to the VRL building over the years, including a research wing in 1972. At some point, OSU covered the brick exterior with Styrofoam insulation finished with stucco. “Big chunks of the siding are falling off,” says Mulrooney, now VDL quality manager. “Woodpeckers are nesting in the foam. We really need a new building.” Today the VRL building houses Molecular Diagnostics, Virology and Serology, and Dr. Kathy O’Reilly’s research lab.


Cross-Campus Collaboration Creates Virtual Reality For Teaching

December 18th, 2015

SkullNemanicWhen the Valley Foundation donated a high-speed CT scanner to the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 2010, they not only provided state-of-the-art treatment for hospital patients, they expanded learning opportunities for veterinary students.

Dr. Sarah Nemanic, Assistant Professor of Radiology, has a passion for teaching, and loves to use technology to enrich learning experiences. She uses CT scans of patients at the hospital to create 3D models that help students learn anatomy. (See the 3D model of a dog skull, spine and throat above.)

“Understanding anatomy is critical for students to understand how dogs breathe and swallow food, and it is also very important for when they are put under general anesthesia for surgery,” she says.

Dr. Nemanic and student Serena Mills (Class of 2015) worked with Matt Viehdorfer, a master’s student in computer science, to create software that uses CT images to teach. For example, the program can take apart a 3D model and show students all the pieces. “The students learn about the name and function of each part, and then use the program to re-assemble the dog. Students using this program learned this anatomy better than students not using the program,” she says.

Now Dr. Nemanic is working with Viehdorfer to take it to the next level. “We are shifting the program from the 2D computer screen to 3D Virtual Reality Goggles,” she says. “The students will wear the goggles and see the parts of the dog in three dimensions like in real life. They will then use their hands to virtually touch the objects, move them around to look at the structures and learn about them, then put the dog back together in 3D.”

The project was coordinated by Jon Dorbolo and Kimmy Hescock in Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC), a division of OSU dedicated to providing instructors with the latest technology. TAC also covered part of the costs of the project.


Pre-Vet Scholars Program Provides A Variety of Learning Opportunities

December 18th, 2015

FergusonLindsey Ferguson, an undergraduate in zoology, has been working in the lab of Assistant Professor Dr. Pat Chappell, where she is exploring the endocrine regulation of reproduction in corals, and locating hormone receptors in the model anemone Aiptasia pallida.

One of 17 students in the Pre-Veterinary Scholars program, Ferguson’s work with Chappell has been good preparation for her next adventure: spending winter term at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, helping scientists study marine gastropods. “I’m hoping she will also be able to collect some coral samples we don’t currently have in our lab,” says Chappell.

The Pre-Veterinary Scholars Program is a collaboration between the University Honors College (UHC) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). It admits students with strong academic abilities and an interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. Students work on research with a faculty mentor and are encouraged to write presentations, join hospital rounds, participate in veterinary student clubs, and join volunteer programs in community outreach.

“We created this program to provide mentorship for promising pre-veterinary students, and to enhance recruitment of students with abilities and skills that fit well with the profession of veterinary medicine,” says CVM Dean Sue Tornquist.


Hospital Offers Top Notch Treatment Through Clinical Trials

December 18th, 2015

dog_in_oncology02Continually seeking to provide the best possible care for patients, the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital conducts clinical trials in conjunction with research on disease, diagnosis, and treatment.

One example: The soft tissue surgery unit is currently conducting a skin tumor surgical margin study for dogs. The study aims to define the best method to determine if a tumor was completely resected, and if CT is better than ultrasound for the staging of mast cell tumors.

The surgical margin study provides discounts on hospital fees up to $1200 per dog. This includes an abdominal ultrasound, CT of the abdomen, liver and spleen FNA/cytology, and a discount on surgical fees.  Client-owned dogs with non-mast cell tumors (other cutaneous or subcutaneous malignant tumor) can receive discounts up to $700 discount per dog.

Study dogs all receive standard-of-care treatment and do not undergo experimental procedures. Dog owners interested in participation, can schedule an appointment with the Small Animal Oncology Service or Soft Tissue Surgery Service at 541-737-4812. More information.

Complete list of current clinical trials.

Ingenious Procedure Treats CCL Injuries in Young Dogs

November 19th, 2015

growthplatescrewThe most common orthopedic injury in dogs is a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Every year, the orthopedic surgery team at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital performs hundreds of tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomies (TPLO) to stabilize the stifle joint after CCL rupture.

Now there is a relatively new, and minimally-invasive, alternative for young dogs with CCL injuries. Recently, Dr. Wendy Baltzer performed a proximal tibial epiphysiodesis (PTE) on a six month-old Golden Retriever named Sydan.

Sydan had been experiencing chronic lameness in his right hind leg for several weeks. Dr. Ruth Loomis at the Brookswood Animal Clinic in Bend took radiographs, diagnosed a CCL rupture, and referred Sydan’s owner to the VTH. Because of his age, Dr. Baltzer decided he was a good candidate for a PTE. “This surgery is specifically for immature dogs with open growth plates who have ruptured their cranial cruciate ligament,” she says.

Using tiny incisions, and a fluoroscope for guidance, Dr. Baltzer inserted a lag screw into the most proximal part of the tibial plateau, in its medio-lateral center, aiming into the tibial shaft. As the caudal aspect of Sydan’s growth plate continues to grow around the screw, it will alter the slope of the tibia, creating a more stable joint.

Sydan went home on six weeks of exercise restriction to allow healing, and his owner was given a set of passive, range-of-motion exercises to do with him. By his eight-week recheck, he was no longer experiencing lameness, and follow-up radiographs showed that the procedure was producing the correct tibial plateau angle.