David Letterman and Indy car legend Bobby Rahal visited the Flint Animal Cancer Center at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital Tuesday, July 24, to learn more about cancer in animals.

“I’ve had pets all my life, and my activity with pets has been, ‘can you bring in a stool sample?’ That’s pretty much my activity with pets. I’ve had cats with cancer, and a dog that when he finally passed away, the vet said he was wall-to-wall tumors. This is both familiar and foreign because of the sophistication of what we’re sitting in the middle of,” said Letterman as he viewed images of a dog’s brain tumor on a large monitor in the hospital’s new radiation oncology suite with Dr. Keara Boss and Dr. Del Leary.

“It’s interesting, once you start looking into something about which you know very little, you find out that there’s an enormous culture of fascinating, and in this case, great things being done that heretofore I didn’t know about. To use a word that is overused, it is overwhelming. The positivity of it, coming to me through the staff here, is a manifestation of the work that is being done.”

In the oncology clinic, surrounded by canine patients and actual veterinary students, Dr. Steve Withrow and Dr. Nicole Ehrhart explained how they save the legs of dogs with bone cancer.

In the clinical trials room, Dr. Steve Dow welcomed Letterman by asking him how his blood pressure was. He answered with a chuckle, “Mine’s in the 140s, thank you. I take hundreds of medications.”

Dow and Dr. Kristen Weishaar explained how CSU’s research on cancer immunotherapies has led to a collaboration with pediatric oncologists at Children’s Hospital Colorado to study the blood-pressure drug losartan as a treatment for metastatic bone cancer in dogs and kids.

“The legacy of these animals who fall prey to cancer, and animals who are treated in a facility like this — who knows, it may be the key, the piece of the puzzle that completes the attack on cancer in humans. So that’s something to be hopeful about,” Letterman said.

“The trick is you take a lot more (losartan) than for blood pressure,” Dow said. “We will be moving from four-legged patients to two-legged patients in a human clinical trial this fall.”

“There are two things to take away from this,” Letterman mused. “There’s the selfish aspect, which is all of my pets have had to go to the vet. Some have not made it through alive, some have made it through alive. But this brightens the hope for what might have been a dire situation. That’s the personal side. But the larger side of this for society, is that it’s working in concert with human medical research. There’s a significant overlap in the chemistry and the treatment of both species. I think cancer is still the enemy we really have to vanquish.”

Learn more about their visit here.