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Winn Awards $80,159 Toward New Fip Research Grants

Winn Feline Foundation

Vicki Thayer, DVM, DABVP (Feline)
Executive Director
888-963-6946, extension 702
Media Info

Steve Dale, CABC
Media Contact and Winn Board Member
Media Info

For Immediate Release

Wykcoff, NJ, April 7, 2015
: Winn Feline Foundation (Winn) announces the funding of four new research grants focused on feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). This is a distinctive part of the soon to be announced 2015 Winn Grant Awards.

Through dedicated fund raising efforts the Bria Fund for FIP Research has sponsored and financed $308,459 in FIP research. This year, Winn Feline Foundation will award over $80,000 in new funding for FIP studies. Donations through Winn’s special Bria Fund provide the basis for these new studies and represents the single largest annual commitment to FIP studies since the founding of the Bria Fund in 2005. The Bria Fund is celebrating its 10th anniversary and continues to raise funds to find answers to FIP. Since the year 2000, in partnership with the Bria Fund, Miller Trust, individual donors, and corporate giving, Winn has funded over $528,000 in scientific research devoted to understanding, diagnosing, and treating feline infectious peritonitis. Winn funded its first study on FIP in the late 1970’s and has been a consistent and dedicated supporter of FIP research for nearly 40 years.

Commenting upon the continuing commitment to FIP research, Winn President, Dr. Glenn Olah, DVM, PhD, ABVP (Feline), stated “Funding these four new studies for FIP research reflects the commitment and generosity of Bria Fund supporters and the results of Winn’s recent client survey showing FIP as one of today’s most important cat health issues. Winn is committed to meeting the desires of our donors and helping to solve the pressing health concerns of our feline friends”.

Bria Fund Grants awarded for the FIP research projects include:

Evaluating new drug compounds for treating feline coronavirus. (W15-010)
Principal Investigators: Brian Murphy, DVM, PhD, ACVP; Niels Pedersen, DVM, PhD; University of California, Davis; $14,970

Given successes in antiviral therapeutics for HIV, many researchers studying feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) consider antiviral therapy the brightest hope for successful treatment. In addition, rapidly emerging research into related human-animal coronaviruses SARS and MERS has paved the way for dramatic advances in FIP therapeutics. Through optimizing laboratory methods, drug compounds with demonstrated effects against SARS and MERS will be tested for their efficacy against FIP.  A FIP-specific enzyme will also be isolated and produced to create a more sophisticated screening test for such drug compounds. Although FIP is a great challenge, the intent is to identify drug compounds that will successfully treat FIP.

A feline tumor necrosis factor inhibitor for FIP. (W15-013)
Principal Investigator: Yunjeong Kim, DVM, PhD, ACVIM; Kansas State University; $23,758

FIP is caused by a variant of a feline coronavirus and cats can develop FIP when their cellular immunity is insufficient to fight the virulent disease. As FIP progresses, lymphocyte loss occurs due to increased cell death impairing the cat’s ability to check virus replication. Lymphocyte loss in FIP is reported to be caused by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) -a. The researcher postulates that combined treatment with specific antiviral drugs that inhibit the replication of virus and direct counteraction of the detrimental effects of TNF-α by an inhibitor may lead to a better clinical outcome. The goal of this study is to evaluate suitable expression systems and biological function of a feline TNF-α inhibitor.

Systemic feline coronavirus and its relationship to FIP. (W15-026)
Principal Investigator: Gary R. Whittaker, PhD; Cornell University; $24,967

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 novel, early, therapeutic interventions for treating FIP in the future.

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

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.

Winn Feline Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1968 that supports studies to improve cat health. Since 1968, the Winn Feline Foundation has funded over $5 million in health research for cats at more than 30 partner institutions world-wide. For further information, go to www.winnfelinefoundation.org.

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