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Compendium July 2008 (Vol 30, No 7)

A Shock to Sarcoids Electrochemotherapy: Is Safe and Effective

by Stacey Oke

    French researchers who are studying electrochemotherapy (ECT)—a treatment modality that combines chemotherapy with electric pulses—say it is a novel, safe, and effective means of treating sarcoids in horses.

    Sarcoids are the most common skin tumor in horses and can be clinically challenging to manage due to frequent recurrence. While intratumoral cisplatin therapy mixed with sesame oil has been proven efficacious for treating sarcoids and squamous cell carcinomas, cisplatin used alone has poor diffusion into tumor cells. When the cisplatin-oil mixture is not prepared or injected correctly, there is decreased efficacy.

    According to Youssef Tamzali, DVM, PhD, DECEIM, of the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse in France, "ECT increases the cytotoxicity of cisplatin up to 70 times in vitro and 20 times in vivo and is therefore anticipated to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy with cisplatin in horses." In a study titled "Electrochemotherapy of cutaneous tumors in Equidae," which was presented by Tamzali at this year's American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, ECT was used on 248 tumors in 57 horses between October 1999 and December 2004. "An objective [complete or partial] response was observed in 98.1% of horses after a mean of 3.6 ± 2.1 ECT sessions and a follow-up of 47.5 ± 17.9 months," explained Tamzali.

    Further prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trials are required to fully document the clinical usefulness of ECT, and future research will focus on ECT for other types of tumors.

    ECT is used clinically in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Slovenia but has not been introduced to North America. The equipment required for ECT is affordable (approximately $15,858 [‚¬10,000]) and is anticipated by Tamzali to be well received once it is introduced to the United States and Canada. One caveat is that in this study, the horses were placed under short-term general anesthesia using intravenous agents because ECT can induce panic reactions, even in horses under heavy sedation and local anesthetic infusion.

    Additional information on ECT can be obtained from the article titled "Electrochemotherapy in Veterinary Oncology," which is coauthored by Tamzali and scheduled to be published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

    NEXT: Abstract Thoughts — Analgesics for Canine Femoral and Pelvic Fracture Repairs

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