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News Article

Antiviral drug tested in cats with naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis

GC376 shows promise in treating cats with certain presentations of FIP.

Following success with a novel antiviral drug for treating experimental feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), researchers from Kansas State University and the University of California, Davis investigated whether the drug could be equally efficacious against naturally occurring FIP. The results of the trial, funded in part by Morris Animal Foundation, are published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Morris Animal Foundation, as one of its animal health initiatives, launched its Feline Infectious Peritonitis Initiative in 2015, dedicating more than $1 million to fund studies to improve diagnostics for and treatments of this fatal disease. One of these studies, launched in March 2016 by Dr. Yunjeong Kim at Kansas State University and Dr. Niels Pedersen at University of California, Davis, was a small clinical trial to investigate whether a novel antiviral drug could cure or greatly extend the lifespan and quality of life for cats with FIP.

“This research is the first attempt to use modern antiviral strategies to cure a fatal, systemic viral disease of any veterinary species,” said Dr. Pedersen. “Our task was to identify the best candidates for antiviral treatment, and the best dose and duration of treatment. Saving or improving the lives of even a few cats is a huge win for FIP research.”

The team conducted a clinical trial with 20 client-owned cats that presented with various forms and stages of FIP, treating them with the antiviral drug. At the time of publication, seven cats were still in disease remission, a positive step forward for a historically untreatable disease.

“We found that most of cats, except for those with neurological disease, can be put into clinical remission quickly with antiviral treatment, but achieving long-term remission is challenging with chronic cases. These findings give us more insight into FIP pathogenesis and also underlies the importance of early diagnosis and early treatment” said Dr. Kim.

The best long-term treatment response was seen in kittens under 16 to 18 weeks of age with a particular form of FIP, and that were at certain stages in the disease’s progression. Unfortunately, cats with neurological disease associated with FIP did not respond as well to the drug and did not achieve disease remission.

“Dr. Kim and I have been collaborating for over two years on an antiviral drug that proved highly active against the FIP virus in tissue culture and in a mouse model. The positive results of these studies convinced us to test the drug against naturally occurring FIP in cats,” said Dr. Pedersen.

The researchers say, “Although only one-third of cats were long-term survivors, the 20 cats in this trial provide a basis for future studies with GC376 and other antiviral drugs that will follow.”

Read article: Efficacy of a 3C-like protease inhibitor in treating various forms of acquired feline infectious peritonitis by Niels C Pedersen, Yunjeong Kim, Hongwei Liu, Anushka C Galasiti Kankanamalage, Chrissy Eckstrand, William C Groutas, Michael Bannasch, Juliana M Meadows, Kyeong-Ok Chang, published in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, online 13 September 2017, doi: 10.1177/1098612X17729626

Article details

  • Date
  • 05 December 2017
  • Source
  • Morris Animal Foundation