In an announcement on Tuesday, May 18th, 2021, San Diego-based startup PetDx announced that they are releasing OncoK9 in partnership with Petco. OncoK9 is a liquid biopsy test that relies on a blood sample to detect cancer.
The announcement of OncoK9 was made as part of #TogetherStrong, a campaign being run by Petco with the aim of creating awareness about cancer in dogs. Today, about 25% of dogs are diagnosed with cancer, with many of them dying from the disease. Just recently, the Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog, Bo, who was a darling among citizens during the Obama’s time in the White House, died from cancer.
Speaking to the press, PetDx chief medical officer Dr. Andi Flory emphasized that there is a “huge unmet need” for early cancer detection in dogs. At the moment, dog owners only know that their beloved pets have cancer after they start showing symptoms, which, in most cases, is usually too late. Fortunately, OncoK9 is here to change this.
The initial rollout phase of OncoK9 will start on May 26th, 2021. During this initial phase, Petco will make OncoK9 available in their various veterinary offices.
Explaining how OncoK9 works, Flory said that the test analyzes a dog’s DNA and detects any genome alterations that can signify development of cancerous cells. While this is not new technology, it has only been previously used to diagnose cancer in humans. Petco’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Whitney Miller, hailed the liquid biopsy test as a game changer for veterinarians and dog owners.