The Winn Feline Foundation has selected eight projects as part of its 2011 Feline Health Grant Awards for a total of more than $140,300 in funding. The projects were chosen out of 42 proposals.
The projects are:
* “A Reproducible Protocol to Isolate a Characterized Population of Adult Feline Progenitor Cells,” by James Wignall, BSc, BVetMed, MRCVS, and Mandi Lopez, DVM, Ph.D., of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. As part of the study, the researchers will determine the best method to isolate feline ASCs and the potential for cell banking for treatment of ill and injured patients. The results will significantly advance adult stromal cell applications to treat felines, according to the researchers. The project received $9,995.
* “Evolution of Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus within FIP Cats and Tissue-specific Adaptation of the Virus to Activating Proteases,” by Gary Whittaker, Ph.D., professor at Cornell University. The researcher will perform laboratory-based experiments on post-mortem samples to define the sequences of the different viruses in the different tissues. The work will characterize the changes that occur in the virus surface protein, allowing a more detailed understanding of this disease, according to the researcher. The project received $23,986.
* “A Cohort-controlled Study of Diarrheagenic E. coli, Concurrent Enteric Infection and Failure of Passive Transfer as Contributing Risks for Mortality in Kittens,” by Jody Gookin, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, Maria Correa, DVM, Ph.D., Jim Guy, DVM, Ph.D., and James Flowers, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, and Chobi DebRoy, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University. The research team will use an “intensive” diagnostic testing strategy to determine the effect of specific E. coli pathotypes, concurrent GI infectious agents and inadequate maternal immunity on mortality in the foster kitten population. The project received $23,600.
* “Intestinal Biofilm Formation by Enterococci in Kittens — Determining the Identity and Virulence Determinants of Those Associated with Life and Death,” by Jody Gookin, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, and Luke Borst, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, of North Carolina State University, and Ludek Zurek, Ph.D., of Kansas State University. Findings from the study may have an enormous impact on selection of probiotics that directly promote the survival of kittens, according to the researchers. The project received $21,885.
* “Immunohistochemical Staining of VEGFR, PDGFR and cKit in Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma,” by Evan Sones, DVM, medical oncology resident, Annette Smith, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Stephanie Schleis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM (oncology), Calvin Johnson, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, of Auburn University. The researchers will perform staining of 15 previously taken feline oral squamous cell carcinoma biopsy samples to determine the level of certain receptors in the cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are a class of drugs new to veterinary medicine, the researchers noted. If these receptors are over-expressed in feline oral squamous cell carcinoma samples, it may be possible to use this new class of drugs for treatment of this disease, according to the researchers. The project received $9,097.
* “Cetuximab Targeting of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma,” by Stuart Helfand, DVM, professor, and Krystal Claybrook, DVM, of Oregon State University. The researchers plan to investigate the potential to use a commercially available protein that attaches to specific entry points on the surface of squamous cell carcinoma cells, blocking substances in the tumor “soil” that trigger growth from gaining access to these docking sites. Results from the study will form the basis for advancing this treatment concept into the clinical setting as a new and improved therapy for cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma, according to the researchers. The project received $15,000.
* “Establishment and Validation of a Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Vector for the in vitro Production of Feline Erythropoietin,” by Brian Murphy, DVM, Ph.D, Dipl. ACVP, and Natalia Vapniarsky, DVM, of University of California, Davis. The study describes an in vitro proof of concept pilot project for a subsequent in vivo gene therapy trial involving anemic cats with renal failure. Results from the study could contribute significantly to the overall health and wellbeing of cats with chronic anemia associated with renal disease, according to the researchers. The project received $11,760.
* “DNA Array Analyses for Cat Diseases,” by Leslie Lyons, Ph.D., of University of California, Davis. This study supports a researcher to analyze the DNA array data. Arrays can assess the entire genome of the cat in one experiment, which is known as a genome-wide association study. Previously and currently supported Winn projects will be prioritized, including Burmese craniofacial defect, Persian and Bengal PRA, and dominant traits, such as dominant white and ear fold, according to the foundation. The project received $25,000.