Feline Stem Cell Research Gets Boost With New ‘Frankie’s Fund’



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Frankie, a Siamese cat like the one pictured above, was the inspiration for Colorado State University’s new fund for feline stem cell research.

Colorado State University today launched Frankie’s Fund, a fund devoted to feline stem cell research. Specifically, it will support research and future clinical trials for stem cell therapy targeting acute and chronic kidney failure, inflammatory bowel disease and possibly asthma, according to the university.

The fund was initiated through an unspecified monetary gift by Deborah Felin Magaldi, a client whose Siamese cat, Frankie, became ill with acute kidney failure as a result of medication she received for an inflammatory mouth condition. Frankie participated in a CSU stem cell therapy clinical trial for cats with kidney failure in 2009.

“The establishment of Frankie’s Fund allows Colorado State University to continue to pursue stem cell therapy research and treatments for cats — something that is not widely available for cats,” said Jessica Quimby, DVM, Frankie’s veterinarian at CSU. “While such veterinary studies and treatments are available for dogs and horses at veterinary hospitals and clinics, including CSU’s equine stem cell programs, feline-focused programs are much rarer.

“This fund allows us to develop our program and research to gain a better understanding of the biology of stem cells, how they function and what treatments they may offer for various feline diseases.”

Frankie’s Fund is initially supporting a new study using stem cells to help cats with chronic kidney disease, a common, progressive disease in older cats. There is no definitive treatment other than a kidney transplant, according to CSU.

Recent laboratory studies have shown that stem cell therapy has the potential to improve kidney function and prevent scarring that forms in the kidneys as a result of the disease, according to CSU. The current study will explore repeated intravenous stem cell injections for kidney failure in cats.

As such, the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is looking for cats that have a stable disease status to participate. Cats in the study will receive injections of stem cells derived from the fat of healthy cats over several months. CSU noted that the study is open to cats from across the United States through coordination with local vets. However, cats with some conditions, such as heart disease, kidney infections, kidney stones, inflammatory bowel disease or other complications, cannot participate.

For study participation details, e-mail jessica.quimby@colostate.edu.

Frankie was diagnosed with cancer in December 2009 and began a chemotherapy protocol developed by CSU. A kidney blockage precipitated total renal failure and she died shortly before her 13th birthday.

Click here to make a donation to the fund.

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