INQUIRIES

Joanne Tuohy, DVM, PhD
Assistant Professor
Surgical Oncology
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Email: jltuohy@vt.edu

About Joanne Tuohy's research

The Comparative Oncology Research Laboratory is housed at the Animal Cancer Care and Research Center at the Roanoke Virginia Tech campus, and includes clinician scientists and researchers who embrace the One Health concept to improve cancer outcomes for veterinary and human patients.

The overall goal of my research is to improve cancer outcomes for veterinary and human patients via tumor ablation and immunotherapy. Specifically, our research team investigates the use of two non-thermal tumor ablation techniques – histotripsy and high-frequency irreversible electroporation (H-FIRE). 

Our research focuses on developing histotripsy as a tumor ablation modality for the primary tumor in osteosarcoma, and on developing H-FIRE as a tumor ablation modality for metastatic tumors in osteosarcoma. Additionally, our research also evaluates the immune response after histotripsy and H-FIRE ablation of tumors. Our research team utilizes veterinary clinical trials, preclinical models and in-vitro systems to explore the ablative and immunomodulatory effects of histotripsy and H-FIRE.

Additionally, I work in partnership with other researchers at Virginia Tech and at the Duke Cancer Institute with expertise in orthopedic and computational mechanobiology, comparative pathobiology, immunology, comparative oncology, cancer and evolutionary biology.

The strength of the dog as a comparative oncology model in osteosarcoma enables our veterinary clinical trial work to inform future studies focusing on developing histotripsy for human osteosarcoma patients.

Histotripsy is a focused ultrasound technique that mechanically disintegrates tissues via precise control of acoustic cavitation. I work in close collaboration with the Vlaisavljevich laboratory in the Virginia Tech Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Department on evaluating and developing histotripsy for veterinary clinical cancer treatment.

Histotripsy device close up

Histotripsy device close up

H-FIRE is a tumor ablation technique that causes cell death by permeabilizing tumor cells using ultra-short electrical pulses. I also work in close collaboration with the Davalos laboratory in the Virginia Tech Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Department on evaluating and developing H-FIRE for veterinary clinical cancer treatment. 

A tumor type of specific interest to me is osteosarcoma, and I aim to use histotripsy and H-FIRE to advance osteosarcoma treatment and outcome. Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor in dogs and people, and the disease in both species share strong similarities. Survival in human and canine osteosarcoma has not improved in the last 30 years, despite efforts to prevent metastatic disease after primary tumor control. Metastatic disease continues to be the primary cause of death for people and dogs with osteosarcoma after primary tumor removal and neoadjuvant / adjuvant chemotherapy. Additionally, primary osteosarcoma removal via limb amputation or limb-salvage surgery has limitations that can negatively affect patient quality-of-life. Treatments to improve outcomes in primary tumor removal and metastatic disease management are sorely needed for osteosarcoma patients. 

Patient exam

Patient exam

Publications

Lab members

Staff

 

Students

  • Manali Patwardhan, TBMH program, PhD candidate, 2022-present
  • Elliana Vickers, TBMH program, PhD candidate, 2022-present
  • Haleigh Hixson, DVM candidate, Summer Research Program Scholar, 2021, 2022
  • Olivia Echols, DVM candidate, Summer Research Program Scholar, 2022

 

Former Students

  • Elaina Davis, DVM candidate, Summer Research Program Scholar, 2021

Collaborators

  • Coy Allen
    Our collaboration with Coy Allen's lab focuses on exploring the intersection between the immune system and cancer, including the development of novel in vitro, ex vivo, and/or in vivo models to support "bench-to-kennel-to-bedside" translational research.
  • Rafael Davalos
    Working with Rafael Davalos, the inventor of irreversible electroporation (IRE), and his team, we are pioneering the use of IRE for the treatment of a variety of tumors.
  • Eli Vlaisavljevich
    Together with Dr. Vlaisavljevich, our lab is developing clinical applications for histotripsy for the treatment of multiple cancer types, especially osteosarcoma in dogs.
  • Vincent Wang
    Orthopedic Mechanobiology Laboratory 
  • Caitlyn Collins
    The Collins Lab studies hard tissue biomechanics and computational mechanobiology.
  • Duke University's Comparative Oncology Group