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Improving treatment of cancer in cats

Each year, the 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 $4 million. Forty-four proposals were submitted by researchers seeking funding in this review cycle. This year, our team of veterinary consultants helped Winn select 10 projects for funding, for a total of $174,018. Here is one of those projects:

Immunohistochemical quantification of the transcobalamin II protein (TCII) and receptor (TCII-R) in naturally occurring feline tumors
Investigators: Annette M. Sysel, Joseph A. Bauer; Bauer Research Foundation, Akron OH

Cancer affects millions of cats annually and may account for 1/3 of all disease-related feline deaths. There are only 2 FDA-approved drugs available for the treatment of cancer in animals, but both drugs are licensed exclusively for use in dogs. Treatment of cancer in cats is largely extrapolated from treatments used in human and canine medicine. A new and interesting approach to cancer therapy is based on the fact that cancer cells rely on vitamin B12 (cobalamin) to grow and they produce transport proteins to scavenge cobalamin. An anti-tumor drug called nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl) uses cobalamin to target cancer cells via the transcobalamin II (TCII) transport protein and receptors. The TCII protein and receptors have been evaluated in human and canine tumors, but not yet in cats. In this project, the investigators will quantify the TCII protein and receptor in feline tumors with the goal of identifying tumors that may be susceptible to treatment with drugs such as No-Cbl.