Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a terrible and lethal disease of cats, most often young cats. The pathogenesis of this disease has not been completely figured out, but feline coronavirus is known to play a role.
It’s known that some cats with the otherwise pretty benign enteric feline corona virus develop the all together different immune mediate FIP. No one knows exactly how this happens or why in some cats and not other cat. Genetics may play a role. Environmental stress may play a role too.
In FIP the virus infects a type of white blood cell, the monocyte/macrophage. As a consequence of this infection, a cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is produced and contributes to the disease. These researchers, funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, prepared antibody to this protein and investigated its usefulness as a treatment for FIP, which is currently considered untreatable.
Progression to FIP was prevented in two out of three cats treated with this antibody, whereas all three cats developed FIP in the placebo control group. Plasma alpha1-glycoprotein, an important inflammatory mediator and vascular endothelial growth factor levels were improved by the administration of the antibody and the peripheral lymphocyte count also recovered. These results strongly suggested that the anti-TNF-alpha antibody is effective for the treatment of FIP. At least, with funding from the Winn Feline Foundation Bria Fund, it seems we’re moving in the right direction.