Dr. Venable: Welcome to the Veterinary Cancer Pioneers Podcast, the show where we delve into the groundbreaking work of veterinary professionals who are dedicated to advancing the field of veterinary oncology. I'm your host, Dr. Rachel Venable, and I'm thrilled to embark on this journey with you. And welcome to the Veterinary Cancer Pioneers Podcast.

Well, welcome to the Veterinary Cancer Pioneers podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Rachel Venable. I am so excited today to introduce our guest Dr. Pamela Jones. Dr. Jones has been involved with multiple areas in the veterinary field. She's actually an Arizona native, which is pretty rare. As someone who lives here, I can say there's not many natives, but she grew up in Tucson, went to college here, then went to veterinary school at Colorado State, and then went on to get boarded in medical oncology and then later, radiation oncology. And she also, before vet school, worked as a technician, which I do wanna talk about that a little bit as we go through, 'cause I think it can be quite a valuable experience. And you were in clinical practice for a long time and have then moved on into industry and are now actually the chief veterinary officer at QBiotics and has been heavily involved with Stelfonta, which we'll also talk about that. It's a pretty exciting and very different type of therapeutic that's out there. So Dr. Jones, I want to thank you so much for being on our show today. 

Dr. Jones: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here, and I'm excited to share whatever I can with any listeners just to whether that means to help them or just give them some insight into some different avenue. 

Dr. Venable: You certainly have a lot to offer. I think it's interesting how your career has evolved over time. I think that's interesting for people 'cause sometimes we get stuck thinking all we can do is clinic. So I think it's interesting to see how you've evolved. And then of course, just hearing about Stelfonta, it's such a different product. And I know I always get a lot of questions about it. So I'm sure you do too. 

But going back to the technician, when I was applying for vet school, I did mostly volunteer, but how do you feel working as a technician? How do you think that even shaped your career or you as a veterinarian? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, it's interesting because the experience really did provide so many benefits to my career.

 And not only, I mean, I knew I wanted to be a vet. I was the typical kid at, you know, age four, said, "Veterinarian”, you know, veterinary, what do you want to be? Veterinary and your pediatrician kept showing up on all my annual,  you know, from grade school all the way through high school and what you want to do with your life. And being a technician, I was fortunate enough that I started working at a practice when I was an undergrad and when I started working at that practice I literally started out as Saturday morning reception and I was cleaning kennels. I was doing anything I could and just gradually started getting more and more hands-on to the point where I gained so much experience as a technician that I was a full -time technician. And I have to say being on that side of things that true caregiving part of things helped me a lot.

But it also helped me when I went to the other side, when I'm a veterinarian and I'm trying to get, I'm overseeing technicians to get a busy clinical practice and get through the day and understanding where they're coming from and where their experiences are. And even, I mean, I look at receptionists even as the toughest job in the hospital is reception, 'cause they have to deal with everything right up front. 

You know, they're like, face of the practice and whether it's an upset client over a loss or whether it's an angry client over a bill, I mean, they're the one or they can't get in today. It's always that kind of thing that they have to be the front. So I think our support staff and being part of that support staff really helped me shape my future.

Dr. Venable: That's all very true and I think that's great. I think it's something that's veterinarians, it's always really important to remember the staff, right? Like I I remember as a, especially as an intern, I lean pretty heavily on some of those seasoned technicians to help me on some of those overnight shifts and things. And yeah, no, I think that's great that you had that experience and certainly would bring a really different insight, you know, going through practice and like you said, trying to manage and remembering it from their shoes. 

Dr. Jones: And one thing that was kind of a little bit difficult for me, becoming a veterinarian and not a technician was leaving that actual caregiving, where instead of being hands-on and giving the caregiving, which we all enjoy so much, we were instead the decision-maker or the one writing the orders.

And the other thing to remember that I often tell veterinarians that we're technicians. I'm like, look, not that you can't put in an IV catheter, but like your staff use their skills, you know, and I find the biggest thing that I push new veterinarians when I meet them and see them and even new oncologists and new specialists that are the practices. I'm like, use your technical staff to their capabilities because they get bored too. You know, they're going to get bored if all they're doing is holding a dog. And yet they have the talent to not only set catheters but also to do some procedures, depending on what state they're licensed in. 

Dr. Venable: Yeah, that's true. And the licensing, it is interesting how all that's kind of changing what you can do and things. But, but yeah, I think it's really important to use. your staff, you know, not just for their boredom, but also for your efficiency. There's no point in the doctor placing catheters, right? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, I used to tell my doctors, if your place, not that you can't do a catheter, not that you can't clean a cage now and then, which we all pitch in and do teamwork. But gosh, you're a really expensive technician when I need you seeing patients, you know, especially when we're so busy. And the only way to use things efficiently is for everybody to do the job they're most trained to. You know and you mentioned just a brief thing and I don't want to get off on a big tangent but you know one of the people ask me all the time do we have a shortage of veterinarians I'm like well let's first work on you know everybody wants to talk about a middle stage like a physician's assistant for veterinarians. And I think it's not about idea but I think first let's use our technicians to their capacity. And let's give them if they're licensed and trained let's let's give them that capacity to do those things. Because I find there's so many things we still do as veterinarians, especially in primary care practices, that we have a really talented, well-educated and trained technician, they could do that. 

Dr. Venable: Right, you know, you bring up a really good point. And it is kind of a hot new topic that's going on out there. And I was shocked when I realized how much debate there truly is over, is there actually a veterinary shortage? I thought there was, but then when I started diving into it, it's like, oh, maybe there's not. 

Dr. Jones: I don't know. Yeah. Yeah. The two things I'm laughing about, I'm like, “But is there a veterinary shortage?” I think there's certainly areas like they talk about rural practices and such, but I think the truth is, I think we're just not using ourselves efficiently, ourselves as well as our staff and all of our support staff that we have around. So I think there's a lot of things.

And we're just evolving. We're evolving just like other professions have and I think as we've gotten more and more specialized and surely we have. I mean you know the numbers going into specialty practice now that I think primary care for a while people are like “Well, if I don't do specialty I'm gonna be bored in primary care.” Let me tell you you're not gonna be bored in primary care especially if you do it efficiently. 

Dr. Venable: Yeah, all the stuff just coming at you trying to get a diagnosis it's a whole different different realm versus in specialty. Generally, it comes in with the diagnosis or pretty high suspicion.

Dr. Jones: I'm always amazed when friends of mine ask me a question like, "So what vaccine should I give my dog?" I'm like, "Oh, let me call my friend." (laughs) 'Cause it's like, you know, it's even when we talk about parasiticides and I think about how far they've come. 

I mean, I was from the era where we gave daily Filaribits to our dogs for hearts disease, you know, and now it's just, you know, there's monthly and now you're looking at even, even some companies have out 12 months injectable and some countries for fleas and ticks, you know, it's just, it's come a long way. 

And, you know, I was a technician when Hill’s first came out and I was a Hill’s technical nutrition consultant I did all the, their whole program and that was, that was amazing at the time but certainly, yeah, general practice just exploded. You know, I love primary care for that reason. In fact, well, when I started as a technician, I was in a mixed animal practice. So you know, we would be palpating cows on the weekend. And in the afternoon doing, you know, spays and neuters and dentals in the morning in the afternoon, we'd be doing lameness exams or or colic exams on horses. You know, so I thought for sure, that's what I ended up doing. And then I got this specialized. 

Dr. Venable: That is a lot of variety for sure. You've seen all those things. And you know, what did make you decide to go into oncology from general practice? 

Dr. Jones:  As bad luck would have it, my first dog I ever had on my own outside of my family, she was a seven year old Labrador golden retriever mix and she got a nasal tumor. And of course it started with epistaxis and it was through the process of diagnosing her when I was a freshman at Colorado State University that I got to know several people in oncology, several of the residents and such. And it just, I think it was one of those things that it was just like immediately cancer became a friend and a foe and by friend, I mean, it was just so fascinating to me. How the body can some somehow a cell can suddenly turn itself back on to dividing and what we can learn from that.  And at the same time, it was such a foe because, you know, everybody just loathes cancer, right? And so it was such a challenge. And it just provided that, you know, I was thinking emergency critical care medicine at the same time, you know, when I was in, in vet school and in what a contrast, emergency critical care and oncology, you know. And part of it was, I knew that when I went into oncology, I was helping people every day. And when we got to the point of euthanasia, it usually was more than anything. It was the dog had cancer or the cat had cancer. And yet I knew that I'd helped those people, whether it was one minute or 24 hours or even two, three, four years. I knew that I'd been on a journey with those people where emergency medicine was to me was more just immediate feedback, you know. So either fix it and it gets better or it doesn't. 

Dr. Venable: Yeah, you know, emergency is very different. I always tell students especially, you know, because sometimes if they've done much emergency, they have kind of a bad taste in their mouth about oncology because that's when you see it at its worst. 

Dr. Jones: It's, you know, you think of things like hemoabdomens, it's make a decision now or not, you know, it's you're gonna have to go forward. And it's, it's even some of the other ones that come in with things like hypercalcemia and such that are all emergencies. And they're just, they're the extreme, they're the extreme badness of cancer, you know, so.

Dr. Venable: Yes, for sure. And, and it sounds like you really like clinical practice. So what was it that made you shift into industry? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, you know, I'm going to blame my, my mentor Mary K. Klein, which many people out there know. And we were always doing clinical trials    when I was a radiation resident with her. And what I liked about the clinical trials is not only were you on the cutting edge of science and you were working with other oncologists, you know, truly other researchers at whether it be a University of Wisconsin at the time or Colorado, you were always working with other people that were interested in the science and you were helping your patients.

So I really got involved in clinical trials. And along with that, I started realizing that the pharmaceutical industry has a whole other side to it, in vet medicine. It really is. It's a completely, it's a different world, and it's a really important world, especially in oncology. If we use it correctly and use it for the benefit of our patients. And that's what I strived to do early on in my clinical career. And I started serving on scientific advisory boards. And that's really where my interest became kind of switched on to, wow, what can I do on the other side? Where can I take my benefit?

Leaving clinical practice was tough for me. In fact, I had clients that I'd known 10, 12 years that were saying to me, oh, you're going to miss this so much. And, you know, early on, and I would tell this to anybody that's thinking about industry, do what I did, keep your foot in the door. And I did. I negotiated my first contract and I said, “I wanna work two to four days a month in clinical practice.” And we agreed on four days a month, so basically one day a week equivalent, where if I wanted to, I could welcome in clinical practice. And that kept my foot in the door, but what was also good about that is early in my career,

I was able to use the drugs that I was talking about. So when I was talking about a product, I could say, “Yep, and in fact, I've used this in my patients.” And so it really helped from that aspect as well.

I quickly realized that as much as I loved clinics, I either had to be all in or all out for me because it was hard for me to do one day a week or even two days in a row and then not be back for two weeks. And that was hard for me not to have the follow-up. As my career went further forward, I realized that I was much better off helping the greater good is what I call it. Teaching other veterinarians as much as I can or bringing more science to oncology or for that matter anywhere on the veterinary science world.

Dr. Venable: And I would say you definitely brought a lot with QBiotics. You guys have done a ton of education, work with Stelfonta, which we'll talk about, but what is it like kind of, can you talk to us a little bit about your role as a chief veterinary officer? 

Dr. Jones: I have to say, I was fortunate enough that my first role in industry, my first big role was with Aratana Therapeutics and many of you know them from the monoclonal antibodies and for B cell and T cell lymphoma. But as well you know they came out with things like Entyce and Galliprant and Nocita now which are products of Elanco. And what was fortunate about Aratana is it was such a small company that I got to see all aspects. So I wasn't just a veterinarian in the field teaching veterinarians. I was also working with the marketing team and I was working with pharmacovigilance and I was working with even the business development team and even the R&D part of Aratana. And so it was great to see so many facets of pharmaceutical and that kind of gave me the insight to know what am I really interested in, right? And because there is, there's so much, and we say pharmaceutical, and what I do is a very tiny part of pharmaceutical, but I realize very quickly that what I like is working in the translational medicine, and I kind of knew that when I was even early in my career.

What I do in my role at QBiotics is I'm a liaison, and that's really what I am. I'm a liaison between external partners such as Virbac with Stelfonta and a liaison with people seeking either partnership with us or you know as far as external, but I'm also a big internal liaison and I oversee the Vet team but I talk to the translational team and I talk to the researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research and I talk to our human clinical team, and basically my job is to make sure everybody's questions are getting answered. however we can get them answered. 

You know, and it's to say “Wait a minute, you know maybe the vet team can do that clinical trial and get that answered quicker for you.” Everybody gets help everybody gets assistance essentially, and everybody gets to work together. What I find with a lot of companies and it's very it's very true whether it's a big pharmaceutical company or a small one I found that many times people get literally siloed into their little groups like R&D works totally separate from marketing, works totally separate from business development and totally separate from another group. And the truth is, they can learn so much from each other. 

And a simple example is say, R&D comes to you and says, “Hey, you got this great product, blah, blah, blah. It's going to fix stifle cranial cruciate injuries in one fell swoop, but it'll be a 10 minute procedure, but it's going to cause... $12,000,” you know? And I can go to marketing or business development and say, guys, this is awesome science, but what do you think? And they may go, no way, you'll get three patients a year that'll use it, you know, because the cost is too high. So, or it's too hard to produce, you know, when we go to production or manufacturing, they'll say, oh, no, it's a great idea, but it'll cost us twice as much to make that product. So it's a really interesting way to get everybody's needs met. 

Dr. Venable: Sounds like throughout your career, you've kind of had a niche where you've been able to kind of learn from everybody, right? Like as a veterinary technician and see everything and then in the clinics give you a broader view and then even in pharmaceutical work with smaller companies and now kind of have that insight of, yeah, they all need to talk because like you just said, something that may sound great, the reality of it may not be so great, right? So it's so important that everybody, talks. So that's really fascinating. 

Dr. Jones:  Yeah, it's really helped me develop, I guess my leadership style too, because I really believe everything is done better in a team atmosphere, learning from each other. And I think the same thing happens, whether it's at a clinical level, I think so often a technician that has maybe 15 years of technical experience can come in and, you know, do it or practice it and say, "Oh, well, I didn't want to say..." we used to do it this way, but what do you think about this?" You know, and have suggestions. And I think it's interesting to suggestions from everybody. And I think same within pharmaceutical, it's worth listening to suggestions from everybody in the group, because everybody looks at things at such different angles. And the biggest thing is that I know for sure is so often I am not the smartest person in the room, you know, and there's other people that are so much smarter in so many different ways. And it's more a matter of recognizing what each individual brings to that, that the benefit to the table. No matter what team you're in, you find you all have the same goal in the end. 

Dr. Venable: It's kind of that recognizing everybody else's skills, you know, like you said, like you don't have to be the smartest person in the room, but how can we all work together? How to tease all that out? So that's great. You know, for anyone that's interested in going into industry knowing you know, any listeners, if we have any veterinarians that are listening and thinking about that, what advice do you have for them?

Dr. Jones:  Yeah. So my number one advice to everybody is network. It really is. It's the beginning of everything. And from a specialist, if you're interested at all and somebody says, "Hey, you want to be on an advisory board," say yes. I mean, most of the time it's not a huge commitment and you'll find out right away whether it's in or not. On those advisory boards, you meet lots of colleagues. If someone asks you to serve on a discussion panel, it may seem odd, but some of the people I know the best, I met on discussion panels for like advising residents on what you would advise them to think about in their first year and their last year.

Even if you're in primary care practice, you know, the greatest thing about being a veterinarian is you can be doing something today, and you can say, I want to try that instead, and you can try. And you always have your skill set to fall back on. And I don't mean to define you only as a clinical veterinarian, because I think that's the problem with veterinarians is. We find that it completely defines us who we are, and we're so much more. You know, if somebody asks me, “What do you do?” I'd love to tell them, “Oh, well, I volunteer every year in Africa, and I vaccinate dogs for rabies.” And it's the greatest thing I do in my life.  But I also like to go hiking and I travel a lot. I don't want to tell them I'm a veterinary oncologist or I'm a veterinary consultant. It's much better to tell them about all the other things that make me who I am. And I think veterinarians forget that, that there is so much more to them. 

And the other thing that veterinarians is you think all you know is clinical practice. And I will tell you, if you could do clinical practice, you have become efficient at managing teams, you become efficient at time, you know, time management, and scheduling, you become efficient at multiple, I mean, there's so many things that come with clinical practice that you don't even realize have given you a skill set that you can take anywhere. And you can even take it into sales, believe it or not, because veterinarians don't want to say they're salespeople, but we are. We're salespeople, but we really believe in what we do. And so it's not hard for us to be salespeople, because when we're giving a recommendation, whether it be for oncology, or whether it be for treatment of Addison’s disease, we really believe in the medicine behind it and what we're doing. 

Dr. Venable: There's so many good nuggets in there. You probably have one of the best elevator pitches I've ever heard, right? Like it's, instead of just saying, “Oh, I'm a veterinarian”, it's like, “No, I go to Africa.” I love it. You need to pick things that you enjoy and really highlight that and not just one word. That is great. I love that. 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, Rachel, you're so right. And it's just become something that in the last, and I think transitioning an industry really made me see that because I was at a point where I was like, “Oh, I'm a great oncologist. I'm brilliant at this. I, you know, I've got, I've done this so long. It's just like second nature to me.” And it's like, wait a minute, but are you enjoying it as much as you did 15 years ago? Are you enjoying your day-to-day? And are you giving back what you think you can give back? Or are you putting in what you think you can put in? And I think at the end of the day, one of the passions for me is, gosh, you don't feel like you're stuck in vet medicine because I love being stuck in vet medicine because you can't can do so much. Veterinarian is just, to me, it's a stepping stone to so many places.

Dr. Venable: So true, yes, I love that. And I think you bring up a lot of good points to help people battle burnout, right? Like if you can focus on not, you know, like what else do you like? What else in trying to improve? 'Cause I feel like for so many of us, you have to be very goal-oriented to get through vet school. For myself, I kind of struggled. It was like, once you hit those goals, it was like, well, now what? What is my goal now? So I like what you're saying about really investing in a future thinking about other things like, okay, what are maybe not as tangible in the sense of like, you know, okay, I have this degree, but what, you know, keep having goals, keep pushing yourself. 

Dr. Jones: And you're exactly right. Because I said, you know, it that's the way when I finished my second residency in radiation. And I passed boards I was like, “So this is it? Wow ,I've been working my whole life for this?” And it wasn't that it wasn't great, it was great, but I was like “Now what?”, and it really was that big “Now what?” like you describe, and it was like “Wow, well, I didn't have anything else on the list.” And so you're like “Well, what are the lists?” 

And for some people it's you know for me initially it was I want to do a triathlon by the time I'm 40. And I did, you know, and that's what it maybe I just want to run a half marathon or I want to do a marathon or it could be doing a like I do, I volunteer every year. That's kind of my reset point. It could be I want to climb every 14er in Colorado, you know, I mean, it could be there's so many things you could do out there in the world, you just have to find what you enjoy. 

But again, off on a little tangent, one of the things I did this year is I have spent the better part of my life reading nonfiction. And last year I said, I'm gonna start reading fiction books again. And I started checking fiction books off my list. I started with classics of course, 'cause what else do you do? You know, you look for the best 100 list. And I couldn't believe how different it made me think. My CEO actually encouraged me to do. I took a drawing class and now I sketch all the time. So I'm doing pencil sketches. And who would have thought that I'd be drawing at this time in my life? 

Dr. Venable: Yeah, that's really cool. I like that. You know, I used to read more fiction and now I've kind of shifted different stage of my life, now I'm reading all nonfiction. But I also agree with you on the classics 'cause I feel like they're a classic for a reason. What's been your favorite that you've read most recently? 

Dr. Jones: So one of my favorites, believe it or not, was "Handmaid's Tale" again. I mean, that was one of those and it's like, do I really want to read it again? It's always been one of my favorites but you look at it differently now that they've made series and other things out of it. There's, gosh, the list is just unreal. Like I couldn't believe. I've read a couple more of Nathaniel Hawthorne's. I just started pulling stuff off the list and it's amazing. Some of them came off of blogs that I listened to and I was like, "Oh, she mentioned that book. Maybe I'll read that." And it's something I never would have picked up as far as fiction and I just said, "Okay, we'll get into the style and see what the author's trying to say. Look at it for art, for art's sake," type thing. 

Dr. Venable: I applaud you for making it through a Hawthorne.

Dr. Jones: It's a whole different, "Well, gosh, you want to use music pentameter.” You know, it's just a whole different, wait a minute, okay, let's try reading that page again. 

Dr. Venable:  Definitely a whole different style back then. I feel like before TV, they wrote much more flowery because people had a lot more patience and more time. 

Dr. Jones:  Yeah, the one thing I had to learn from a friend of mine, she reads fiction, like, you know, she reads a book a week type thing. And she said, "Oh Pam, are you really reading these word for word?" And I'm like, "Well, yeah, aren't you supposed to read them too?" She goes, "Well, maybe some of the classics, but really what you need to do is like more skim the paragraph and get the idea." And I was like, "Now I get why you read so many books." 

Dr. Venable: Well, that's awesome. I love how you're trying different things. And I think that's great advice just for all facets of life of trying different things. And then I do want to circle back more towards clinics to kind of hear a little bit more about what you think of Stelfonta. I mean, you know, we've talked about it. I use it. I think it's a great therapy, but it is very different. So I guess kind of maybe just a real brief because probably most people listen to this know what Stelfonta, but maybe just real briefly what it is and when do you think it's a good time to use that type of therapy.

Dr. Jones: Yeah, it's, you know, it's a tough drug because it's so innovative and it's the first time that a drug has been approved. for intratumoral injections. So for those just briefly, it's approved for intratumoral treatment of mast cell tumors and specifically cutaneous ones anywhere on the body of the dog and subcutaneous below the elbow and hock only. And what's interesting about it has a really complicated mode of action. I laugh because what we know about mode of action, I always, I work with the researchers at QIMR and I kind of look at them and go, so there's more to this story because there always is with these molecules. And so it does cause local oncosis. It also causes an innate immune response locally and inflammation. And it basically causes the tumor vascular journey to become leaky and overall it causes necrosis. 

What I think is more interesting about the drug than all that is the fact that it has wound healing properties, which that just just surprised me, what it does after the fact. You know, the hard thing about a drug like Stelfonta, because it is so innovative is, and I've seen this for 25 years, is the minute oncologist, and Rachel, you better agree with me, the minute oncologists get a new drug, they go, “Oh, well, I got nothing else. I'm going to throw that new drug at it.” Right? And we all did it with Palladia.

Oh my gosh, I put more dogs on Palladia with more diseases in the first year. And, you know, it's just, “Eh, I got nothing else. Give it Palladia.” Well, the difference between a drug that's oral like Palladia that causes GI signs as its primary side effect, you have a drug like Stelfonta that you're injecting in the tumor, and that actually works locally because I will tell you, I injected a lot of carboplatin, a lot of gliomyosin, a lot of you name it, into tumors and saw nothing happen. And the first time I injected this, I went, whoa, something happened. Now I have no tumor, but I have a big hole. And I think that's the biggest thing you have to realize is, no matter what drug you use, you have to set realistic expectations. 

The downfall is I see it done with even new drugs like Laverdia, another new drug. And people go, “Oh, well, I tried it, but it didn't work. And it's like, "Yeah, but you tried it on a pet and a patient where nothing's gonna work, right?" I mean, sometimes I get calls about cases for Stelfonta that I wouldn't touch them with radiation, chemo, or anything. I just basically talk to the owners about a realistic, you know, quality of life talk and say, "Look, guys, I know you're looking for a home run here, but this is not it." It's probably the only drug that I've used in oncology where I say, “Follow the label.” Really stay within the guidelines of the label because pushing it outside of the label doesn't work. And I'm the first one to know that have I rounded up doses of chemotherapy once I got comfortable with things like carboplatin? Sure, you know, if it was 305, I'd say give 310 or you know, whatever, but it's not like that. This is really seriously something you need to stay within the bounds of the label. At least. least until you get very comfortable with it. Once you get comfortable with it and you understand how it works, then I think there's always room if you're comfortable as a specialist or whatever and using it in some other manner. But definitely the label is there for a reason and it's meant to be followed. Because we found in the first three years that, because it's been out more than three years now, we found that most of the things that get reported in pharmacovigilance, people have used it off-label whether they didn't use the concomitant medications or they treated a tumor that was two times above the label restrictions you know or used using it on a big tumor on a little dog which was going to make that little dog really sick and so yeah, that's my biggest advice is use it within reason and realistic expectations. 

Dr. Venable: And I always tell people too to really check out the website I think you guys have done a good job between Virbac and Stelfonta. You can really, one, double-check your dose. There's the math equation. So for me, it's like, why do the math by hand? I mean, you can double-check it. 

Dr. Jones: I still use the website to check my doses. I calculated by hand and if I get an email from somebody asking me, I'll double check the dose and then I'll put it in the calculator because it's such a unique way of calculating. Like the first thing, I had so many oncologists ask me, why is it length width, height times one -half? And I'm like, well, let me explain. Length times width times height is a square or a rectangle. And if you hadn't thought about that, because we write it in our records all the time, but we haven't had a drug where you needed to know the actual volume, which is modified ellipsoid is your best one, which is the multiply times half. I definitely say, I agree, use the website. When you're educating clients, use the website. There's pictures there for a reason. We want clients to know.

And, you know, I embrace the wound for Stelfonta like I do radiation burns because I've been educating clients for 25 years on radiation side effects and what they're going to look like. And back in the day, I still have it actually. It's probably worth something now. I have a photo album of radiation side effects that I made when I was a resident. So this is in 2002. I made this photo album, one for MK's practice in Tucson, one for our practice in Phoenix. I made like three or four of them. And literally it has the worst of the worst pictures. Well, now we have digital so we can show you on our phone and we can show you on computer screen. And it's worth it. And what I found is much like radiation is if the client client is prepared for the side effects, they're not as shocked. And in fact, I think clients walk in and tell me with radiation burns, it's not as bad as you said, did you give enough dose? And I'm like, I can assure you, I gave the highest dose possible. And Stelfonta, the owner feedback we get is usually, “Oh my God”, when they're educated, of course. “Oh my gosh, it totally ripped that cancer apart and killed it, and now it's healing. This is awesome,” you know? And it's interesting that it's a matter of education. And it is a visual, it's, as my Australian friends will say, it's confronting. They use the term confronting. I'm like, “Confronting? It's downright disturbing if you're not ready for it,” you know? So, but it isn't to one, and we're not used to creating wounds, you know, overall, unless you're a radiation oncologist, sometimes we do. 

Dr. Venable: I do. I agree. I feel like this is definitely a drug where you need good client education because if there's someone who can't handle blood, this isn't good. And the wound aspect that you mentioned earlier about how this works with wounds, and I agree, it's fascinating because I remember hyperthermia and some of these other therapies that would fry these tumors, but then you were left with these huge holes where where a real wound versus Stelfonta, it is kind of crazy because you get a wound, but it heals up. Like we don't have to do the bandaging and the flushing. You know, it's not like a burn, you know, like if a dog like comes in on the ER. So you want to explain that a little bit more? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, so some of the healing properties the drug has is it does cause keratinocyte migration and it causes something called natosis, which natosis is basically the neutrophils form this net or webbing and it blocks biofilm it disrupts the biofilm the bacteria form and so there's and it also caused the fibroblast it basically causes maturation of the fibroblast and such and so through that process it enhances healing and it also decreases the risk of wound infections. I think the biggest thing is people always say to me, well, you don't need a manager, don't need any color. And I'm like, within reason, I, because I'm not saying no dogs ever need any color, because you have dogs that will traumatize the wound because they won't leave it alone. But for the most part, you don't need those things and you don't need to manage the wounds. And, and I think that's a great benefit of Stelfanta. And what we discovered is it's part of that epoxy tickling class that it's in. And we have another drug that we've we're going into human trials, a wound healing drug that is actually makes Stelfanta's wound healing properties look kind of mild compared to what it does. So that class of drugs alone is just really beneficial in that aspect. 

Dr. Venable: That's interesting.Yeah, what other are you guys looking at other uses for Stelfanta? I mean other than mast cell tumors? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, it's a good question. And one of the things that we've learned about the drug is that in and of itself, and this is both in early pilot trials in dogs as well as pilot trials in humans. The first phase one trial we did in humans was head and neck and it had squamous cell carcinoma, it had some adenocarcinomas, it had basal cells and melanomas, and we found that it was a broad range that actually responded, which was interesting. And a lot of that is, it's what you would call a tumor agnostic. It doesn't target directly the tumor, it targets the tumor vasculature and stimulates the immune response and such. 

Specifically in dogs, we're doing face, we have done several phase trials in soft tissue sarcoma. And in fact, we are finishing a trial in soft tissue sarcoma in dogs right now. Suffice it to say it's used very similarly, but different con meds and also a little bit different dosage structure but we found that it works in that as well. And then again in pilot trials we found that it works in a number of different tumors. In fact, I think when we talk on the human business development side, we've now had it in 12 different species and many tumor types. I can't even remember the number of tumor types. Of course, some of those are just n of one, but we're seeing responses. As far as the human side which if you've gone to the QBiotics website, you know that we've done more than just the phase one in the head and neck, and we've actually closed trials in melanoma in humans. And right now we have two active trials, one in head and neck solid tumors. It's a phase two trial and a phase two in soft tissue sarcoma. And the soft tissue sarcoma, I think, is near enclosure. It only took six months to enroll that in the clinical trial this year. And that one's one that we're doing with Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Dr. Venable: That's really exciting. Well, that is great to see. And I always love things where, you know, we can learn so much about it in our pets. And then that's a drug we now have or a test even to help with our pets that then moves on to help people. I love that. That's one of the reasons I got into oncology. So I love that you guys are being able to do that with your products. And you're one other thing I had a quick question for you is, veterinarians, we love to use things off-label. I know you said to follow the label with Stelfonta, but you guys have found it works with other tumors. What would you say to vets who want to use this in something other than a mass cell tumor? Would you say yes or no? 

Dr. Jones: Well, I'm going to have to inform you that it's off-label because I work for the company. So I have to tell you that. What I would say is if you're considering using it for tumors that are not mass cell tumors, don't hesitate to reach out to me or reach out to someone from Virbac that can give me a call and you're gonna reach me if you don't know my number, don't know how to reach me. Because many of the tumors I can give you hints on or I can tell you what we've experienced. 

Of course, warning you that it is off-label use of the drug, but I think for the select patient it definitely is suitable. And again, we mentioned soft tissue sarcoma, that's probably the one I get most commonly from oncologists is soft tissue sarcoma. And certainly there are limitations much like limitations on tumor volume, much like like there's limitations on mast cell tumor volume. And that's through experience with the we did a trial in Europe. And we like I said, we were finishing another prospective trial now. 

Dr. Venable: How exciting, when do you think it like maybe within the year or two, we might have those like the data on that published, do you think? 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, that should be within the year because we'll be closing that trial easily this quarter, this quarter of this year. And certainly, I think we're at a point where efficacy data and early safety data will be available. Yeah. 

Dr. Vneable: Oh, great. You know, talking about QBiotics and what you guys have, is there anything else you've seen kind of coming down the pipeline for just oncology or veterinary medicine that you think is really interesting?

Dr. Jones: Yeah. Yeah, so most of the stuff we're working on is not oncology related right now. I mentioned the wound healing product and that maybe something we're exploring, the possibility of vet medicine for that too. And then we have a few other that are early anti-inflammatories and antibiotic type products that were in early work. Too early to really say when that would be on the market but early enough to say that we're actually dabbling in that right now.

Dr. Venable: Yeah. Well, we'll certainly have to keep an eye on you guys. As we're wrapping stuff up here, one quick question. Who else would you recommend to do this podcast?

Dr. Jones: Well, you know, and he's gonna hate me for always recommending him, but Chad Johannes is someone that I recommend if you have not had him on and I don't think you have. And the reason I recommend him is, believe it or not, Chad and I met at Colorado State. He was a first year intern and I was a senior student. It was my first week on clinics. I think at that time we called it clinical practice or something. It's basically it was triage. It was receiving on clinics, and I got to know him that first week of my senior year and we've both followed very similar paths in that we worked in industry. He is in academia now, although he's had a very strong time period in industry. And I think there's a lot to learn from him because what he's done in academia is very different than what he did in industry and is very different than what I do. But it's still an important area that people can look into, whether it be being medical director or hospital director, that kind of thing. 

Dr. Jones: Yeah, Chad would be great. You're right. He would certainly be a great one to have on this show. Well, Dr. Jones, I thank you so much for being on this podcast, learned so many great things about just teamwork and seeing different aspects of the veterinary field and certainly learning more about Stelfonta and different products and things you guys have coming out.

Dr. Venable: So thank you so much. And where can people reach out to you or find you? What would you recommend people? Where should they look?

Dr. Jones: Yes, so probably the best is to QBiotics. You can always send something to the general, but my email is really simple. It's pamela.jones@qbiotics.com. So it's very easy. You just have to remember the dot between Pamela and Jones. 

Dr. Venable: Nice, well, thank you so much for sharing. I know people always have a lot of questions about Stelfonta and still learning as we go along with that. And again, thank you so much for being on this podcast. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

Dr. Jones: Yeah, thank you, Rachel. for your time and thanks for asking. I enjoyed it. 

Dr. Venable: Well, that's it for this episode of the Veterinary Cancer Pioneers Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode and gained valuable insight, we would be so grateful if you could share our podcast with your friends and colleagues. And it would be even more wonderful if you could leave a five-star rating, positive review, or any kind of feedback on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. The Veterinary Cancer Pioneers Podcast is presented to you by ImpriMed.