Winn Feline awards 11 study grants

The foundation has awarded $214,000 for 11 feline health studies

The Winn Feline Foundation, a Wyckoff, N.J., nonprofit that supports studies to improve cat health and has funded almost $6 million in health research for cats at more than 30 partner institutions worldwide, announced in April that it awarded more than $214,000 for 11 feline health studies. 

The research studies funded include:

  • “Generating and using adult stem cells to treat feline diabetes,” Mandi Lopez, DVM, MS, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVS, of Louisiana State University. This study attempts to show that stem cells can become pancreatic cells and function like insulin-producing natural cells. If so, it may be possible to cure diabetes in cats.
  • “Evaluating new treatments for feline hepatic lipidosis,” Hedwig Kruitwagen, DVM, and Bart Spee, Ph.D., of Utrecht University, The Netherlands. This study uses a previously developed functional liver cell culture (a “liver organoid”) to evaluate new treatments for feline hepatic lipidosis without the need for live animal testing.
  • “Evaluating the prolonged use of an antacid, famotidine, in cats,” M. Katherine Tolbert, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, and Adesola Odunayo, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVECC, of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Famotidine (Pepcid), an antacid, is a commonly used medication in cats for various stomach ailments, but studies in other species show it may become ineffective if given daily over long periods. This study evaluates that possibility in cats and whether changing the dosage can prolong its effectiveness.
  • “Evaluating the effect of probiotic therapy on feline Tritrichomonas foetus infection,” Dr. Tolbert and Rachel Dickson, DVM candidate, of the University of Tennessee, and Jody Gookin, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, of North Carolina State. This study evaluates the role feline intestinal bacteria (probiotics) play in preventing infection with T. foetus, which causes chronic diarrhea in cats and is very difficult to treat. If successful, it may be possible to treat this disease with probiotics.
  • “Mechanisms by which feline mesenchymal stem cells regulate T-cell activation and proliferation,” Dori Borjesson, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, of the University of California, Davis. Stem cells derived from fat seem to have potent anti-inflammatory effects that have been used successfully to treat otherwise untreatable diseases in cats, but no one knows why. This study investigates how this occurs, which may identify other diseases that could benefit from this intriguing therapy.
  • “Cryopreservation of feline red blood cells for transfusions using different solutions,” Marcelle Hon, MS, DVM, and Elizabeth Thomovsky, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVECC, of Purdue University. Currently, feline blood can only be stored refrigerated for one month, making it difficult to stock for transfusions. This study evaluates the effect of freezing with the use of glycerol and hydroxyethel starch solutions on red blood cells of cats, as commonly done in human blood banks, which could extend its shelf life for several years.
  • “Shelter cat adoption in families of children with autism,” Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., and Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., of University of Missouri. It is widely thought that companion animals, such as cats, benefit children with autism, but definitive studies are lacking. This study quantifies the effects and benefits of cat ownership on autistic children as well as evaluates the degree of stress on these cats.
  • “Foraging behavior under threat and enrichment in confined cats,” Melissa Bain, DVM, Dipl. ACVB, Dipl. ACAW, and Tony Buffington, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVN, of University of California, Davis. Cats who live indoors lack opportunity to hunt and eat naturally. This study evaluates these effects on indoor cats and whether enriching their environment and using food puzzles to stimulate hunting behavior are of benefit to their behavioral and physical health.

Winn Feline Foundation is able to fund additional feline health studies each year through a grant from the George Sydney and Phyllis Redman Miller Trust. Via special funding through the Bria Fund for FIP research, the foundation also is calling for research proposals that address FIP genetics and molecular biology, prevention, novel diagnostics, and safe and effective treatments.

Aug. 7 is the deadline for receipt of applications for Miller Trust and FIP grants. The maximum grant is $35,000. Details are available here.

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