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New approaches to treating feline herpesvirus eye infections

Progress report on Winn grants MT10-007, MT11-007

Wilkes RP, Ward DA, Newkirk KM, Adams JK and Kania SA. Evaluation of delivery agents used for introduction of small interfering RNAs into feline corneal cells. Am J Vet Res. 2013; 74: 243-7.

Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) is a cause of chronic recurrent infections that can cause severe eye disease. This research, funded by Winn Feline Foundation since 2010, examined several agents for usefulness as carriers for administration of a potential new antiviral agent, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). siRNAs use the cell’s own machinery to inhibit viral replication through interfering with the function of essential FHV-1 genes. These investigators have proven that this approach works to inhibit FHV-1. The next step was to test various delivery agents for use in topical administration to the eyes, the site of chronic FHV-1 infection.

Three of the delivery agents tested were effective at facilitating cellular transfer of the siRNA and viral replication was inhibited. The agents were nontoxic and nonirritating. Unfortunately, none of the agents were effective at delivering the siRNA to the cells of the feline cornea. Winn has funded the next phase of this project as the search continues for another approach such as a nanoparticle delivery vehicle. [MK]

See also: Wilkes RP and Kania SA. Evaluation of the effects of small interfering RNAs on in vitro replication of feline herpesvirus-1. Am J Vet Res. 2010; 71: 655-63.