Cancer Immunotherapies as Treatment for Your Pets | Torigen Pharmaceuticals

Torigen Pharmaceuticals treats animals using cancer immunotherapies

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 83 - Torigen Pharmaceuticals

Cancer Immunotherapies as Treatment for Your Pets | Torigen Pharmaceuticals

Good news: cancer treatment for our companion animals is now within reach!

All thanks to Torigen Pharmaceuticals.

Founded by Ashley Kalinauskas, Torigen Pharmaceuticals is a start-up that aims to make a difference in veterinary medicine.

According to Ashley, who is the company’s founder and CEO,

“We realized just how big of a problem cancer was in veterinary medicine that we made the decision really early on to stay here and to grow here. And I think that that decision was really because of the need. There’s just not enough innovation happening in the veterinary oncology space. We think that there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”

Torigen Pharmaceuticals: From Academic to Commercial

Torigen Pharmaceuticals website

A result of Ashley’s graduate thesis project at the University of Notre Dame, Torigen Pharmaceuticals focuses on providing the most advanced cancer care solutions for companion animals. Its members consist of cancer researchers, vets, and veterinary professionals who are driven by their love for pets.

As per Ashley,

“I started…while working with the professor that I was with, on the technology he had developed for personalized cancer vaccines.”

Being able to get her hands on this Notre Dame-patented technology helped Ashley understand its potential effects. Not long after, she and her professor began to consider applying it in the veterinary industry.

“So, my professor actually treated his own dog with cancer. She had oral squamous cell carcinoma. She was the first patient we have ever treated with this technology outside of mice and rats. And it really opened my eyes to see if it helped Sadie, his own dog, why can’t it help other animals?,”

she continued.

Torigen Pharmaceuticals on providing cancer treatment that is within your reach

With four to six million dogs and over four million cats receiving a cancer diagnosis each year in the U.S., this was a big problem that Ashley, a pet lover herself, wanted to help solve. More so when she learned that approximately 50% of dogs over the age of 10 die from cancer.

“There are so few options that are available to owners… And working on the technology of personalized cancer immunotherapy, we felt that we had an opportunity to be able to offer something to veterinarians and pet owners.”

How Torigen PharmaceuticalsAnimal Oncology Process Works

Torigen Pharmaceuticals on changing the way cancer in pets is being treated

Recognizing the role that animals play in our lives, the team determinedly extends the former’s lives despite a cancer diagnosis.

To this end, their animal oncology process works as follows:

  1. Vets will surgically excise the tumor and send it to Torigen’s lab via prepaid overnight shipping.
  2. Torigen’s lab staff will prepare a personalized vaccine for the tumor. They will then send the vaccine back to your vet clinic in a span of 3-5 working days.
  3. Vets will then administer the personalized vaccine by injection once a week for three weeks.

Ashley explained it best:

“We make sure that the product is really safe because that’s what the owner is most interested in. They don’t wanna put their pet through additional pain or suffering… So, it’s about conducting and understanding safety as our number one priority… So, from our end, we just see that there are just a lot of opportunities to be able to provide safe, effective, affordable, and accessible treatment options to the veterinary community.”



Learn more about Torigen Pharmaceuticals!

Visit their website at

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Ashley: I’m Ashley Kalinauskas, and I’m tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Awesome. Ashley, welcome. Thanks for coming on with us today. Why don’t you tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals?

Ashley: I’m the founder and CEO of a company called Torigen. And Torigen was launched and created, actually from my graduate research at the University of Notre Dame.

So, I started and really got interested, working with the professor that I was with on a technology he had developed for personalized cancer vaccines. Meaning after a patient is diagnosed with cancer, a tumor would get sent into a laboratory and created into a series of personalized vaccines to give back to that patient.

So, at Notre Dame, there have been a lot of publications and a lot of patents filed around this really interesting technology. And as a grad student working in the lab, really being able to get my hands on this technology and understanding its potential, it came to us, well, why not the veterinary industry?

So, my professor actually had treated his own dog with cancer. She had oral squamous cell carcinoma. She was the first patient we had ever treated with this technology outside of mice and rats.

It really kind of opened my eyes to see if it helped Sadie, his own dog. Why can’t it help other animals? And for me personally, my biggest question was  how many dogs and how many cats  actually, get diagnosed with cancer?

There in comes the big problem in veterinary medicine. It’s that there’s between 4 to 6 million dogs and over 4 million cats that get diagnosed with cancer each year, in the U.S.

50% of all dogs over the age of 10 die from cancer. And that’s just like: stabbed you in the heart. Like, how is this such a big problem that we don’t really hear a lot about?

And definitely genetics, definitely environmental, they all play into it. But at the end of the day, you as an owner, what do you do when you’re faced with that diagnosis?

There are just so few options that are available to owners. So, yes, you can choose to do surgery in order to surgically remove the tumor.

Yes, you can do chemo or radiation, but there’s a big portion of owners that are on the ‘do nothing’ that it’s not worth it, to put their pet through not having options.

While working on the technology of personalized cancer immunotherapies and personalized cancer vaccines—

Really, it was like we felt that we had an opportunity to kind of check a few boxes to be able to offer something to veterinarians and to owners to finally provide that option. That’s really kind of what led to the launch of Torigen.

Chris: Break it down a little bit for—for us that are not as scientific. How does that actually work? What’s happening? Is this a pill or what’s the process?

Ashley: Our technology is that when a patient comes in and that tumor is surgically excised, the tumor gets sent into our laboratories, and we see that as the starting point.

Because now we get this tumor, and that tumor contains all of the proteins on the surface that are specific to that patient and that patient’s cancer.

So, when it comes to our lab, what we do— is first, most cancers need a diagnosis, so we work with Histopathologists in order to get an accurate diagnosis for what this is. And then once we have a diagnosis, we know that it’s a malignant cancer, meaning having a likelihood for coming back or spreading. And we know that this has the potential to recur after the surgery.

What we do is we bring everything down to the cellular level. We deactivate the tumor cells but preserve the outside tumor-associated antigens. Those are the mutational proteins that we want to now present back to the immune system.

So, because we take the tumor, we take it out of the body. We then take those tumor cells, deactivate them in a way that still conforms their epitopes on the surface. We now have a way to create this personalized vaccine that’s given back only to that patient to stimulate a response only against their cancer.

Chris: What’s next? Where do you take this? Anything you can share?

Ashley: Like I said, we’re partnering with the human companies in order to in licensed and bring assets into veterinary medicine. And I think that’s just so exciting to be able to see where this growth can occur.

We have a second version of our personalized cancer vaccine that we have some really great mouse model data on that we’re looking to expand on. And I think diagnostic pieces and services are definitely in the cards as we continue to move forward.

So, I want Torigen to be a company that’s positioned for success. We’ve picked a niche market: Veterinary Oncology, but it’s a market that has a clear problem that needs to be solved, and I think we’re the right team in order to do it.

Chris: I’m excited to see where you guys are going. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up?

Ashley: No, if anyone’s interested in learning more about Torigen, you can check out our website, WWW.TORIGEN.COM

You can also feel free to follow us on Facebook, we’re on Instagram where we share cute pictures of our pets, as well as some of the pets that we’ve helped.

And I think overall, we’re interested in just being able to tell our story and being an interesting company for the industry to keep an eye on.

Chris: As we wrap things up, I’ll remind our viewers and listeners that if you’ve got an innovative idea like Ashley did, that’s turning into an amazing company. We’d love to talk to you, love to hear more about it.

So go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW, and we’ll get you on the show and talk to you about it. So thank you again, Ashley, for coming on.

I’m really excited for what you guys are doing. Really glad that you came on to talk about it.

Ashley: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

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