Investigations into potential treatments for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and chronic kidney disease were among ten projects selected by the Winn Feline Foundation from a field of 44 proposals to receive $174,018 in funding, the Hillsborough, N.J.-based nonprofit reported today.
The investigation by Belgium researchers to evaluate the efficacy of a treatment for feline infectious peritonitis received the largest chunk of funding at $24,962. Veterinary faculty from Ghent University’s Laboratory of Virology will attempt to determine if a specific blocking agent can inhibit the FIP virus from evading a host’s immune system, allowing the system to recognize and destroy infected cells.
A study led by Kathryn Meurs, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine received $24,674 and will focus on identifying the gene responsible for feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Sphynx cat. Identification of the gene could lead to a reduction in the prevalence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Sphynx cat and provide information on the disease in other breeds, as well.
The foundation granted $24,513 to an investigation led by Dorothy Brown, DVM, Dipl. DACVS of the University of Pennsylvania, to develop tools that can measure pain in cats. The tools to be investigated include a “Feline Brief Pain Inventory” assessment to be completed by cat owners at home and a monitor for cat collars that measures activity levels.
Researchers from the Tufts University College of Veterinary Medicine received $20,000 for their investigation into the use of pimodendan as a treatment for cats with chronic kidney disease. The drug has been used on cats with both heart and kidney disease, and in some of those patients, the addition of pimobendan resulted in a greater improvement in kidney values and clinical response. The research could lead to a larger study to establish whether pimobendan could be a novel treatment for cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.
A study by University of Tennessee Department of Veterinary Medicine researchers to develop a soft contact lens-like hydrogel that could be used as a treatment for blindness caused by feline herpesvirus-1 received $17,785. The gel allows for uptake of small interfering RNA’s, which use a cell’s own machinery to inhibit viral replication through the targeting of essential herpesvirus genes.
The Bauer Research Foundation in Akron, Ohio, received $17,663 from Winn for a study to identify feline tumors susceptible to vitamin B12-based imaging and treatment with drugs such as nitrosylcobalamin.
Researchers from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine received $16,109 for their study to identify potential genetic components of the compulsive “wool sucking” behavior in cats, specifically in Siamese and Birman cats. The incidence rate of the condition, which consists of repetitive searching, suckling, chewing and ingestion of non-food items, is higher in oriental breeds, suggesting a genetic susceptibility, according to Winn.
A University of Wisconsin-Madison study into the efficacy of ringworm decontamination options for household textiles received $5,363, and a University of California-Davis study to investigate the gene that causes progressive retinal atrophy in the Bengal cat received $4,221.
Four of the projects are seeking additional sponsors, including the FIP, pain, textile and chronic kidney disease studies. Sponsorship requires a minimum $250 donation and includes progress reports and copies of publications that result and are provided by the researchers. Donations can be made online.