A fifth clinical trial under way at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital focuses on chronic kidney disease in older cats, and researchers are seeking cats to participate.

The trial is exploring stem-cell therapy that could, for the first time, hold promise for treating one of the most perplexing feline diseases, CSU veterinarians said.

Researchers are seeking cats with the disease to participate in the clinical trial; cats with concurrent diseases are not eligible. For information about the trial and to determine eligibility for enrollment, visit col.st/1lB4KHf.

Studies suggest that about 50 percent of cats older than age 10 suffer from chronic kidney disease.

Symptoms include weight loss, poor appetite, lethargy, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting, poor coat and bad breath.

Although the disease is common, risk factors are poorly understood and it is tough to treat: Chronic kidney disease is considered irreversible, and treatment typically centers on slowing progression of the disease through supportive care, such as dietary changes, injected fluids and blood-pressure medication.

In a pilot study last year, CSU veterinarians determined that stem-cell therapy could provide a new treatment option for cats. After preliminary results, the research team is investigating the ability of stem cells to repair damaged kidneys.

Veterinarians are intrigued by use of stem-cell therapy for chronic kidney failure in cats because earlier studies demonstrated the approach could decrease inflammation, promote regeneration of damaged cells, slow loss of protein through urine and improve kidney function, said Dr. Jessica Quimby, a veterinarian leading the CSU research.

“In our pilot study last year, in which stem cells were injected intravenously, we found stem-cell therapy to be safe, and we saw evidence of improvement among some of the cats enrolled in the trial,” Quimby said.

“In this study, we will further explore stem-cell therapy with the new approach of injecting the cells close to the damaged organs. We hope this proximity could yield even better results.”

For the CSU study, the stem cells used have been cultivated from the fat of young, healthy cats; donor animals are not harmed.

The study will track cats with chronic kidney disease for about 2 months, with a variety of diagnostic tests conducted before and after stem-cell treatment to analyze kidney function.

A special CSU fund, called Frankie’s Fund for Feline Stem Cell Research, will pay the costs of preparing the stem cells, as well as all costs of visits, lab work and injections for cats enrolled in the study.

The fund is named for a seal point Siamese cat with chronic kidney disease whose owners sought treatment from the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Frankie’s treatment pointed the way to innovative stem-cell therapies for cats with chronic kidney disease.

People may donate to the fund by visiting advancing.colostate.edu/frankiesfund.

For more information about enrolling a cat in the clinical trial, contact Dr. Jessica Quimby at jquimby@colostate.edu.

From Colorado State University

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