FIP Research

Short URL: /fipresearch

Almost all cats are infected by feline enteric coronavirus (FECV), a virus that can mutate into feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). Fortunately not all felines develop or catch the highly deadly FIPV. Past efforts to find a cure have fallen short since FIPV is a RNA virus that mutates at such a high rate the cat’s immune system is not able to fight off the infection. The antibodies in the current vaccine that don’t neutralize the FIPV infection can actually enhance and worsen the disease.

Drs. Paul de Figueiredo, Julian Leibowitz and Arum Han, researchers at Texas A&M University, are taking a novel approach to therapeutic development that may eventually eliminate all coronaviruses, including FIPV and human diseases caused by coronaviruses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Their approach uses a chip, called PRESCIENT, to transpose experiments that would normally use thousands of test tubes and hundreds of workers, into a micro-scale experimental system. This mass-producible miniaturized system only needs one investigator working in parallel with large numbers of fully automated chips, which in the end lowers costs and leads to results more quickly.

The goal of using this “lab-on-a-chip” technique is to find antibodies that will neutralize coronaviruses – that’s finding a needle in the hay stack. This new technology acts as a magnet to find the desired antibodies. If done manually, this process would be an incredibly labor-intensive and time-consuming undertaking.

This research is in the beginning stages, and funding is needed to get it off the ground. Helping with that effort is Cleo the Cat, a socialite in Houston, TX, whose goal is to increase awareness about efforts helping animals and to raise money for such causes.

Cleo is teaming up with Harley’s Angels, a group of female motorcycle enthusiasts who raise money for breast cancer research, to jointly host a fundraiser called Angel Wings and Furry Things. All proceeds will be split between the A&M’s FIP research and breast cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine.