Cats With Kidney Disease Sought For Clinical Trials

Colorado State University veterinarians are looking for cats with chronic kidney disease to participate in several clinical trials aimed at finding treatments.

Colorado State University veterinarians are looking for cats with chronic kidney disease to participate in several clinical trials aimed at finding treatments.

The trials are currently underway at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo. Felines with chronic kidney disease may benefit from the studies, and several studies offer financial assistance if extra visits to the hospital are required or if the owner is asked to do extra tasks at home. The trials include:

• An appetite stimulant clinical trial for mirtazapine

Mirtazapine is a new appetite stimulant with anti-nausea properties that appears to help improve the quality of life of cats with kidney disease. Cats in the study will receive either a dose of mirtazapine or a placebo every other day for three weeks and then cross over to the other group for an additional three weeks. A vet visit is necessary at the beginning, middle and end of the study, and all visits and laboratory work are paid for by the study. It is not necessary to come to Colorado State University for the study, as the subject’s veterinarian will receive a stipend to cover the study costs. The owner will need to record home observations regarding appetite and attitude. Cats with kidney infection or other uncontrolled diseases cannot be enrolled. Cats in the study will receive free Purina kidney diet for six months and a two-month mirtazapine supply.

• A stem cell therapy study

In laboratories, stem cells improve renal function, decrease inflammation and scarring in the kidney, and improve levels of excess protein in the urine. Cats with stable chronic kidney disease can participate in this stem cell study. Cats will receive three IV injections of stem cells over several visits to the veterinarian while their kidney function is monitored. Cats with some other illnesses or heart disease, kidney infection, stones or other renal complications cannot be enrolled in this study. This study involves five visits to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, so cats that become agitated during veterinary visits are not ideal. All visits, lab work needed for the study, stem cell treatments, and a $200 stipend for the owner’s expenses are paid for by CSU’s Frankie’s Fund for Feline Stem Cell Research and the Morris Animal Foundation.

• A clinical trial for Cerenia for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in cats with chronic kidney disease

Cats that have been diagnosed with stable chronic kidney disease and who have a “picky” appetite, nausea or vomiting are potentially eligible for entry into this study. The cat will have a complementary physical exam and chemistry panel at the beginning of the study. The study involves giving cats either Cerenia or a placebo daily for two weeks. After two weeks, cats will receive a second complimentary physical exam and complimentary chemistry panel. During the study, the owner will be asked to fill out a daily diary of the cat’s behavior and other details. Cats with other illnesses may not be eligible. Owners receive complimentary veterinary visits and chemistry tests; a $100 stipend is offered to the participating veterinarian per cat enrolled to cover these costs.

• Vitamin E supplementation study

Cats with stable chronic kidney disease, particularly those that are anemic, are ideal for this study, which looks at whether vitamin E supplements can improve the cat’s antioxidant status and, if applicable, anemia. Cats that are not anemic will also be considered for the study. Cats will receive some initial laboratory work and then be given either a placebo or a small amount of liquid vitamin E supplements once a day for three months. At one and two months, cats will need a brief recheck at the veterinarian, and at the third month, a recheck and additional tests will be performed. Cats with other illnesses or undergoing erythropoietin therapy cannot be enrolled in this study. Owners will receive a complimentary laboratory screening needed for the study, recheck lab work and all recheck visits. Cats from around the country can be enrolled by their owner and veterinarian.

• Urine culture techniques study

Cats with kidney disease are prone to a specific kind of bacterial kidney infection called pyelonephritis that can be challenging to definitively diagnose. This study compares a new urine test to standard tests to determine if the new test may be used to accurately diagnose the infections. Cats with pyelonephritis or suspected pyelonephritis and cats with a urinary tract infection are eligible for this study. Participants will receive complimentary laboratory tests needed for the study and a kidney ultrasound. Cats that have previously been treated with antibiotics are excluded from the study.

The school’s veterinarians are also offering free private cremation services for cats that have died from chronic kidney failure. The veterinarians would like to obtain kidney samples from deceased cats to further study kidney disease. The ashes of the deceased cat would be returned to owners within about a week’s time. This request helps with the three studies about how cells age and if the aging plays a role in renal disease, if nausea and lack of appetite in cats with renal failure is caused by a specific condition, and to better understand the stages of renal disease.

For more information about enrolling a cat in one of the studies, contact Jessica Quimby, DVM, at 970-297-5000 or


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