Once in a great while, a medical study will be abruptly halted when preliminary results clearly demonstrate that the treatment being evaluated is too effective to be ethically withheld from the control group.  JoNel Aleccia brings us up to speed on a study that may become the shortest in history:

Backed by a nearly $1 million grant from veterinary health firm Zoetis, with matching funds from the Pfizer Foundation, the American Humane Association is launching what advocates say is the first clinical trial of the effects of what’s known as animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, on young cancer patients and their families.

“It’s really this crucial exploration of the child-animal bond and how that is a crucial path to healing,” said Robin Ganzert, president and chief executive of AHA, who is scheduled to brief Congress on the “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study” Thursday morning.

The goal is to gather the first-ever clinical details about the physical and psychological effects of animal therapy on the child patients, their families and caregivers, said Amy McCullough, AHA’s national director of humane research and therapy.


It’s about time, and the results can’t come soon enough for so many ailing children:

The results of the study, expected in a year to 15 months, will be welcome, said Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, a pediatric cancer expert at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, which is not part of the trial.

“I think this is a spectacular idea,” she said. “I’m surprised that we haven’t thought of this sooner.”