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New approaches to treatment of feline calicivirus infection

Taharaguchi S, Matsuhiro T, Harima H, et al. Suppression of feline calicivirus replication using small interfering RNA targeted to its polymerase gene. Biocontrol Sci. 2012; 17: 87-91. [Free, full text article]
Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a virus of the family Caliciviridae and one of the most important causes of upper respiratory tract infection in cats. Cases of virulent systemic feline calicivirus (VS-FCV) have been documented in the past 10 years that are known to cause systemic disease with high morbidity and mortality rates.

Small interfering RNA (siRNA) are a class of double stranded RNA molecules, typically 20-25 base pairs in length, that are capable of disrupting specific gene expression. Because disease processes depend on the activity of multiple genes, siRNA show promise as an antiviral treatment agent.

Winn Feline Foundation has funded research at the University of Tennessee using the siRNA approach for treatment of feline herpesvirus.

Researchers from Anabu University in Japan synthesized a siRNA that targets the polymerase gene of strain FCV-B, a known VS-FCV. Various in vitro studies using this siRNA showed it was able to significantly inhibit viral replication. However, this RNA interference effect was only successful in suppressing replication of strain FCV-B and not other VS-FCV strains tested. Therefore, the use of highly conserved regions of FCV as siRNA target sites would be necessary in order to be effective against many different FCV strains, and the possibility of siRNA resistant strains must also be considered. [GO]

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.