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2015 Feline health grants available for sponsorship

Last month, Winn announced the funding of 11 new feline health research projects for a total of over $190,649. Each year, Winn Feline Foundation receives proposals from veterinary researchers around the world who are interested in improving feline health. To date, Winn’s cumulative total in feline health research funding exceeds $5.2 million.

Winn is seeking donations of $250 and up to sponsor specific projects. Sponsors will receive progress reports as they are available and copies of any publications that result from the project that are provided by the investigators. Your help in sponsoring these projects means Winn can fund even more research next year.
Sponsorship is easy!

W15-001:   Comparing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test with fungal culture for ringworm. $15,375
Principal Investigator: Linda Jacobson, BVScMMedVet, PhD, Lauren McIntyre, RVT, BScH; Toronto Humane Society

Ringworm is currently diagnosed by culturing infected hairs and skin scrapings and observing for growth of fungal colonies. If ringworm is confirmed, the animal needs two negative cultures to confirm a cure. Even if the first culture is negative,

the cat needs to be held back from adoption for 2 or 3 weeks while waiting for the result. IDEXX Laboratories® has recently developed a rapid test for ringworm that identifies ringworm DNA in hair samples and skin scrapings. The PCR test results are available within 3 business days thus cats could potentially be confirmed ringworm-free, or cured, a full 11-18 days sooner. The goal of this study is to compare the IDEXX Laboratories® PCR test with fungal culture in an animal shelter, to see if the PCR test could replace fungal culture for early diagnosis of ringworm and for showing that the animal has been cured after treatment. This could save the lives of many shelter cats.

W15-026:  Systemic feline coronavirus and its relationship to FIP. $24,967

Principal Investigator: Gary R. Whittaker, PhD; Cornell University

A critical determinant of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is the ability of the virus to infect white blood cells. The key differences between the viruses infecting the gastrointestinal tract (FECV), white blood cells, and other tissues and organs (FIPV), however, are still not well understood. The goal of this study is to understand the virus present in blood samples, and to identify the viral mutations responsible for spread in the blood. We expect the work proposed here to advance our understanding of both early and late events in FIP disease and to provide critical information on a diagnostic test currently under development in this lab The researcher also hopes to develop a novel, early, therapeutic interventions for treating FIP in the future.

W15-030:  Using small interfering RNA for treatment of feline infectious peritonitis. $16,500
Principal Investigators: Emin Anis, PhD; Rebecca Wilkes, DVM, PhD; The University of Tennessee

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal disease that is caused by feline coronavirus (FCoV). Cats lack an effective immune response (IR) to the virus and cats with FIP have a profound reduction in a specific white blood cell type (WBCs) that is important for protection of cats from infection. In this study, it is proposed that death of these important WBCs is due to activation of a response called “programmed death” within the cells. Initiation of this response is thought to be due to an overexpression of two proteins on the surface of the WBCs and the interaction of these two proteins. Preliminary evidence supports this hypothesis therefore the study’s goals are to confirm these findings by testing more samples and to evaluate whether blocking WBCs death will enhance the survival of the white blood cells. If shown to be effective, programmed death pathway blocking could be a useful addition to any therapy that specifically targets the virus.

W15-044:  Phenotypic characteristic of cardiomyopathy in Birman cats. $10,169
Principal Investigator: Virginia Luis Fuentes, VetMB, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM; Royal Veterinary College, University of London

Birman cats, primarily in Europe, are predisposed to heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy). A crucial question that must be answered before a genetic mutation can be identified is whether the three forms of heart muscle disease are three different diseases with three different causes or whether they are part of a spectrum of one disease with one genetic cause. The plan here is to study Birmans with cardiomyopathy using a combination of cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography), pathology and pedigree analysis, so that the research team can determine the features of these heart muscle diseases. If there is substantial overlap in their ultrasound and pathology characteristics, or they find families of Birmans with multiple members affected by more than one type of cardiomyopathy, they can be more confident that they are dealing with one disease, and so can proceed to genetic research.