The Morris Animal Foundation has a long history of funding studies that help diagnose, treat and prevent disease in animals. Since 1950, the foundation has funded many many projects that have led to significant discoveries. They have invested $15.8 million in 368 studies at 60 different institutions around the world. Here is a list of the five new cat studies funded for 2018:
- Gastrointestinal Disease Caused by Virus – Panleukopenia is a devastating disease causing three different clinical presentations; “fading kitten syndrome”, neurological disease in kittens infected in utero and severe gastroenteritis. Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia will be investigating the role viruses play in this highly infectious disease that kills many shelter cats.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – FIP is caused by a corona virus that causes two different clinical syndromes in cats. The wet form is characterized by the accumulation of a straw colored fluid in the chest and/or abdomen. The dry form is characterized by accumulations of white blood cells called granulomas throughout the internal organs. Both forms are fatal. Researchers at Colorado State University are looking at new ways to diagnose this disease. Currently, the most commonly used test only indicates exposure to a corona virus. There are no current tests that indicate if the kitten will develop FIP.
- Heart Disease – Cats with heart disease are at risk for forming blood clots that travel through the aorta until they reach the area where the aorta splits into the right and left iliac arteries that supply blood to the back legs. The clot sticks in this area, called the saddle, restricting or completely blocking blood flow. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, will be investigating why the anti-clot drug clopidogrel doesn’t work in all cats. They will look at genetic mutations in cats with heart disease.
- Chronic Kidney Disease – Kidney disease is a common problem in older cats. Beside maintaining hydration, the kidneys remove amylase, an enzyme used in digestion, from the blood stream. Scientists at the University of Tennessee will study the effectiveness of omeprazole in suppressing stomach acid production.
- Herpesvirus-related Infections – Herpesvirus infections in cats often start as a severe upper respiratory infection in kittens. These kittens come into the clinic breathing through their mouths because of the thick pus draining from their eyes and nose. They are really sick. Even with intensive care, many will die. The lucky survivors will be infected for the rest of their lives. The virus lies dormant in their bodies until the cat is stressed, then makes the cat sick again. They will also shed the virus leading to the infection of more cats. Researchers at Michigan state University will study the immune response to feline herpesvirus with the hope of making a better vaccine for this virus.
Source: Cat Report 2018, Morris Animal Foundation, morrisaniamlfoundation.org.
The Morris Animal Foundation has a long history of funding studies that help diagnose, treat and prevent disease in dogs and cats. Since 1950, the foundation has funded many many projects that have led to significant discoveries including the first vaccine to prevent parvovirus enteritis in dogs. This infectious disease destroys rapidly dividing cells in the body causing severe vomiting, diarrhea and bone marrow suppression. Even with aggressive medical treatment, some of the pups will die. One of my own dogs came to me as a 10 week old pup infected with parvo. For a week, he was in isolation receiving intensive care before he turned the corner. He was one of the lucky ones.
The following is a list of the new studies funded by Morris in 2018.
- Hemangioscarcoma – This cancer is usually found on the spleen, heart and liver in large breed dogs. In most cases, it is diagnosed after the tumor ruptures and bleeds. The new studies will look at how the cancer cells use fat as energy to grow as well as other medications for chemotherapy.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Dogs with IBD suffer from severe gastrointestinal problems including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, cramping and gas. New studies will look at what triggers this condition.
- Stem Cell-Based Therapies – A new stem cell will be tested as a potential treatment for IBD and other immune-mediated disease.
- Environmental Chemicals and Cancer – Research will focus on how dogs neutralize chemicals that have been linked to cancer in humans.
- Blood Transfusion – Blood for dogs is collected into bags containing additives and stored for use. Research will focus on how additives effect the function of platelets which clot blood.
- Spinal Cord Disease – Spinal cord problems including degenerative myelopathy can be difficult to diagnose and monitor. A new study will look at how advanced imaging can be used to monitor spinal cord disease.
- Osteosarcoma – Bone cancer is very difficult to treat in dogs requiring amputation of the affected limb. Research will look at what stimulates these abnormal cells to grow and methods to block it.
- Lymphocytic Leukemia – Like humans, leukemia and lymphoma are common cancers in dogs. New treatments will be explored for an especially aggressive type of leukemia called B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
- Severe Bleeding Disorders – Dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia (IAHA) produces antibodies against their own platelets leading to destruction. Without platelets, these dogs will bleed to death. Research will look at an enzyme called thrombopoietin, that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more platelets.
In addition to these new studies, The Morris Animal Foundation is funding many other ongoing studies in dogs. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is following over 3,000 golden retrievers with the hope of learning more about their common health issues. Right now, the FDA has launched a review of taurine levels in grain-free diets with peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes after participants in this study developed dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) at a higher rate than expected. Normally, DCM is a disease of giant breed dogs as well as American and English Cocker Spaniels. More information is available through the Food & Drug Administration Animal Veterinary News Service.
If you would like to support these vital research projects, please consider donating or volunteering with The Morris Animal Foundation. More information is at morrisanimalfoundation.org.
-Dog Report 2018, Morris Animal Foundation.org.