New treatment for cats with feline leukemia and FIV

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Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

Until very recently, feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline AIDS (FIV) were both considered to be untreatable diseases, fatal once an infected cat started to show signs of disease. Recently, a new product has been introduced that may change that fact. (In all honesty, this is not really a “new” product per se, having been around since at least 2008, but one which seems to be getting a bit more attention lately.)

TCyte: A New Treatment for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS

TCyte, a new treatment for feline leukemia and feline AIDS is a lymphocyte T-cell immune modulator. In the simplest terms, that means that TCyte works on the infected cat’s immune system to improve the cat’s ability to deal with the feline leukemia or feline AIDS infection.

TCyte is used to treat cats infected with either the feline leukemia or feline  AIDS virus who are experiencing symptoms such as red blood cell or white blood cell abnormalities and/or opportunistic infections.

How Does TCyte Work?

TCyte has several different effects on the immune system of the infected cat. It helps increase the number of lymphocytes formed in the blood stream of the infected cat as well as improving the way the lymphocytes function. (Lymphocytes are specific types of white blood cells that are an important part of the immune system and they play a crucial role in the cat’s ability to fight disease. They are often decreased in feline leukemia and/or feline AIDS infections.) TCyte also increases red blood cell production, helping to fight anemia in infected cats. In addition, it increases IL-2 production, which is also known to stimulate the lymphocyte reaction against viruses, such as the feline leukemia and feline AIDS viruses.

Is TCyte Proven to Work?

TCyte currently has a conditional licensure granted by the USDA. This means that additional efficacy and potency studies are in progress. However, in a study published in the International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine (Vol. 6, No. 2, 2008):

“A total of 23 FIV or FeLV-infected cats entered the study of which 22 qualified and completed as scheduled. No significant adverse reactions attributed to LTCI (TCyte) treatment were detected. Treatment with LTCI resulted in improvements in both clinical and hematological parameters.”

These results are encouraging. However, 23 cats is not a large number of animals. And the long-term benefits of treatment are still largely unknown although several of the cats in this study did survive for long periods. Much more research is needed in this area before we can really know how effective this product is in the long run.

Still, when you consider the deadly nature of these viruses, particularly once the red blood cell and white blood cell lines have become abnormal, this product might be worth trying if your cat is suffering from feline leukemia or feline AIDS. I have not, at this time, tried this medication in my veterinary practice yet. However, it is something I would consider should an owner be willing to attempt treatment, I think.

Have any of you had tried TCyte for your own FeLV or FIV-infected cats? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. Please share by leaving a comment below.

Lorie Huston has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years. Besides a successful career in a busy small animal hospital in Providence, RI, Lorie is also a successful freelance writer specializing in pet care and pet health topics. 

Photo by Tomi Tapio, Flickr Creative Commons

236 Comments on New treatment for cats with feline leukemia and FIV

  1. Mabel
    May 4, 2017 at 12:58 am (2 months ago)

    My Bengal cat Numa was diagnosed with Felv in Jan 2017 after being in contact with a stray cat that ironically tested a false negative. We were devastated. He got very ill and his bloodwork was bad. He has been receiving Immunoregulin shots. One bottle costs around 50 dollars and covers many shots. They are in the vein so a vet or vet tech has to administer it. He got two a week for 2 weeks and one weekly for about 10 weeks. Then it will be once a month. He is fine, gained the 2 pounds he had lost and we will check his values soon. I have also given B12 subq and vit C 1 cc IM at the beginning daily or every two days now about once a week. I will search the info for retromad.

    Reply
    • TheCatWhisperer
      June 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm (1 week ago)

      I wouldn’t just stop at RetroMAD1 you can also add the human HIV drug Raltegravir at about 80mgs 2x daily. My cat is on both and blood work shows shes fine.

      Reply
  2. Find any service
    February 10, 2017 at 2:42 pm (5 months ago)

    Update: George died today from kidney failure. He was due to have his 2nd T-cyte shot today but this morning he went downhill very fast and I rushed him in. The vet put him to sleep. He began his treatment exactly 1 week ago on 3rd Feb. (see my other posts). What I have learnt from this experience is don’t wait till you see symptoms. Get them started immediately on the treatment and maintain for life. My heart is broken but he’s on the other side now with his friends. He was a loved and cherished member of my family.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 11, 2017 at 6:08 am (5 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about George.

      Reply
    • diane abernathy
      June 14, 2017 at 7:42 pm (2 weeks ago)

      so sorry you lost your baby.
      r.i.p. sweet boy

      Reply
  3. samantha
    February 6, 2017 at 11:42 am (5 months ago)

    Comment

    Reply
  4. Candy Kimmel
    February 3, 2017 at 6:05 pm (5 months ago)

    Just like Loretta on this post I also have an accidental sanctuary of 18 cats. One came with FIV. He has declined considerably and is down to 5 lbs, skin and bone but eating up to 5 cans a day plus cooked chicken and dry food!. He got his first shot of T-cyte today. Another in 1 week. Cost approx $100 per shot. After initial 3 shots he will be on a monthly schedule. He will be the first cat to get this treatment here at Sturgis Veterinary Hospital/Equine Center. Fingers crossed. Will let you know how it goes.

    Reply
    • Sheri
      February 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm (5 months ago)

      Have you had his thyroid checked? Cats that eat huge amounts but are losing weight are often hyperthyroid. Usually FIV/FeLV cats that are losing weight are not eating well due to anemia, etc.

      Reply
      • Candy Kimmel
        February 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm (5 months ago)

        Yes. He had a full work up before beginning treatment. No problem with Thyroid. Now into 2nd day and so far today he has only had x1 can. By this time he would have polished off x2!. Trying not to get too excited……

        Reply
  5. Heidi Fimbres
    January 30, 2017 at 6:13 am (5 months ago)

    Hi Lorie,

    My cat Nimbus was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia on December 23rd, 2016. He was very ill (not eating, lethargic, weight loss, poor coat condition, etc). On December 27th, 2016, Nimbus had a blood transfusion. He responded very well and was back to normal for about a month, but my husband and I noticed he is starting to decline again. We can’t imagine euthanizing him. On the other hand, we can’t afford transfusions every 30 days.

    After researching FLV online, I ran across the T-cyte therapy. I found a vet in my area that had the injections on hand. My cat received his first injection today. The second injection is scheduled for 7 days and the third injection is in 14 days. I will give you an update in two weeks on Nimbus’s condition and if the T-cyte therapy is working for him. I sure hope so as this is our only source to keep him alive.

    Thanks,
    Heidi

    Reply
    • Dana
      January 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm (5 months ago)

      Heidi: we have used LCTI…PLEASE be aware that more aggressive treatment may be necessary if your cat is having symptoms. I had a conversation with Dr. Beardsley directly who indicated it can be safely given up to 3x within a 7-10 day period. If your vet is uneasy or needs further information, Dr. Beardsley will talk with him/her.

      This stuff works. It was worth every penny we spent and gave us more time with our little baby. You just need to use it as quickly as possible and if needed, more often.

      Reply
      • Heidi Fimbres
        January 31, 2017 at 3:41 am (5 months ago)

        Hi Dana,

        Thank you for your quick response. As you know, Nimbus had his first T-cyte injection yesterday. He continues to decline in health. Today, he is barely eating and drinking and he’s got very little energy. I’m worried there’s not enough time for the T-cyte to kick in. I will take your advise on a more aggressive treatment plan. I’ll go on Wednesday (in 2 days) for Nimbus’s 2nd injection. Is there any way that you could send me Dr. Beardsley’s contact info so that I have it with me (in case the vet is unaware)? Please let me know and thank you for your support!

        Reply
        • Dana
          January 31, 2017 at 11:09 am (5 months ago)

          There are two email addresses on their website: orders@tcyte.com and info@tcyte.com. The phone number is (800) 483-2104. You are given a few extension options and can leave a message. If your vet leaves a message, he needs to indicate the situation is critical. (This is a small operation.)

          I feel for you…believe me. We lost our precious girl just a couple weeks ago. I spent countless hours researching and working to keep her with us..and countless calls (and one or two very, uh…., direct conversations) to the vet. I wish I had someone to talk with who had been there. If I can help someone else, I am happy to do so.

          I have to be completely honest, if my experience is any indicator, your baby requires immediate care and VERY close monitoring. Not long after she stopped eating a large mass was found in her abdomen. It happened so quickly, we couldn’t believe it. The LCTI by itself will not have time to work in this situation. You must provide supportive care in addition to a very aggressive LCTI dosing schedule. They can overnight this medicine if needed. We were being advised to put our girl to sleep at this stage which we refused because she was not yet giving up. I would fight as long as she did.

          I am unsure where you are financially, but another transfusion may be necessary to give him extra time for these injections to work. If he is not drinking or eating, you need to address that immediately – feeding tube, fluids. Offer him ANYTHING and EVERYTHING…just get him to eat. Protocol goes out the window when they stop eating. (No garlic/onion) Did your vet order any bloodwork? What were his blood counts?

          What we saw after the standard 3 dose regimen was a small improvement in her blood counts which proved the injections were working. She had non-regenerative anemia, yet her numbers improved. We were just not aggressive enough because we didn’t know we had that option until the very end.

          I apologize for “rambling”…there are so many things to say that can help I fear my message may get confusing.

          Just please remember…as wonderful as vets can be, they do not know all and are not always correct. You MUST do your homework, ask questions and demand clear, concise answers. Get more opinions if needed, just do not waste time.

          My thoughts are with you! Contact me with any questions. I am happy to help in any way I can. Please, do understand I am not a medical professional, I just loved my girl beyond words and fought like hell for her as long as she wanted me to. I can share my experience and what I have learned along the way.

          Reply
          • Heidi
            February 1, 2017 at 11:16 pm (5 months ago)

            Hi Dana,

            A few things…first, I’d like to thank you for providing me with Dr. Beardsley’s contact info. I actually called the number, because I had a couple of questions. A nice lady referred me to Dr. Beardsley who spoke to me directly. Dr. Beardsley confirmed that although Nimbus is symptomatic, the t-cyte therapy will work. He too recommended a more aggressive therapy for Nimbus and offered to speak to the vet. How awesome is that? Second, I am happy to report that Nimbus is doing better the past two days. His appetite is better and he’s able to walk on his own. I think the most significant observation is that he isn’t declining further and you know how fast this devastating disease takes hold and destroys its victim. Next, I asked Dr. Beardsley if he recommends a steroid shot along with the T-cyte injection and he said no, that it could interfere with the effects from the T-cyte. I think you knew that. I’m just confirming that you are correct. I’m sure steroids are very helpful, but apparently not when combined with the T-cyte therapy. Also, I am so sorry that you lost your girl. I can’t imaging losing Nimbus. He is such a big part of our family. So, thank you for helping people like me who are holding on to every little bit of hope. Last, Nimbus goes in tomorrow night for his second injection. I’ll update you on his health situation in a couple of days. Thanks a million truly!

          • Dana
            February 2, 2017 at 6:54 pm (5 months ago)

            I am so very happy to hear you were able to speak with him directly and he was able to help. He was very helpful to us. Please do update on Nimbus and his progress. I would love to hear how he is doing.

            Losing our little girl was like losing a child and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Bless you for being such a good person and loving your little guy so much. If I can help, let me know.

        • TheCatWhisperer
          January 31, 2017 at 12:45 pm (5 months ago)

          Does he have anemia? Heres what I would do. If he’s not eating ask the Vet to put him on an anabolic steroid. This will help the increase appetite & red blood cells. Ask for Nandrolone Decanoate(preferably), Stanozolol, or Oxandrolone, these are all mild steroids and are prescribed for Veterinary use.
          For the virus I would use RetroMAD1, LTCI, and Raltegravir which is a new HIV drug that has been proven to work against FeLV and I am using it on my cat with blood work to back up its safety. There are other HIV drugs that can be used effectively against feline retro-viruses. Read this article as it is basically The Bible for treating FeLV using human HIV drugs. And dont let the Veterinarian tell you they can’t find or prescribe these drugs, my Vet calls in all these medications to a compound pharmacy and its delivered to my door. Its expensive but I refuse to let this virus win and take my cat.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542715/

          Reply
          • Dana
            January 31, 2017 at 5:43 pm (5 months ago)

            Steroids suppress the immune system and are not recommended during use of LCTI. There are appetite stimulating medications available. We used mirtazapine with some success, but I know there have been cats which exhibited very odd behavior while on this med. We saw an increase in vocalization and she became unusually “lovey” but she ate….

          • TheCatWhisperer
            January 31, 2017 at 5:51 pm (5 months ago)

            Please DO NOT give incorrect information! Anabolic Steroids DO NOT SUPPRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.
            Glucocorticosteroids like Prednisone and Dexamethasone suppress the immune system and ARE NOT THE SAME as Anabolic Steroids (Deca-Durabolin, Winstrol, Anavar) which are used to treat Anemia in humans and animals. They also increase appetite and help with protein synthesis.

          • Ingrid
            February 1, 2017 at 1:19 pm (5 months ago)

            All steroids suppress the immune system.

          • Dana
            February 1, 2017 at 11:03 am (5 months ago)

            I respectfully disagree as to the steroids. Sorry, not here to cause upset.

            Heidi: Do your research and proceed in whatever manner you believe is best for your kitty.

          • TheCatWhisperer
            February 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm (5 months ago)

            All steroids do not suppress the immune system. Anabolic steroids have been given to people wasting with HIV for years and they increase killer T cells which is the opposite of immune suppression.

        • Loretta B
          January 31, 2017 at 3:42 pm (5 months ago)

          When my cats stop eating it’s usually because they have sores in their mouths that make eating very painful. What I do at that point is take pate canned cat food and mix it with a little bit of water in the blender until all they have to do is drink it. Watch for wet lips or drooling. Push comes to shove, I will feed them this with a eyedropper.

          I just lost another one a few weeks ago. I still have 3 left with nasty sores in their mouths. The other 17 are for the most part asymptomatic with occasional flare ups. I wish I could afford all of this expensive medication for them but my income doesn’t go that far.

          Reply
          • diane abernathy
            June 14, 2017 at 7:51 pm (2 weeks ago)

            peptic ac ground up and put in their “soup” helps alot. consult the vet on exactky how much. my old vet told me to put a eight of a
            pill in their food to help with the sores

    • TheCatWhisperer
      January 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm (5 months ago)

      Use RetroMAD1 (antiviral from Malaysia) LTCI an immuno-stimulant, and raltegravir which is an HIV medication that has been proven to work on FeLV. Im using all three on my cat.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542715/

      Reply
      • samantha
        February 6, 2017 at 11:02 am (5 months ago)

        hi, my cat has symtomatic FIV with anemia and she is not eating. I have to syringe feed her. Can you tell me how long does it take to get it delivered retroMAD1? or is there any way you have any to spare for my Missy? thanks so much, worried cat mummy, Samantha

        Reply
  6. ED
    December 18, 2016 at 12:12 am (6 months ago)

    Anyone tried cdb oil canna oik?

    Reply
  7. Kristal
    October 27, 2016 at 1:11 pm (8 months ago)

    I desperately need this medicine for my kitty. Where does one get it from?

    Reply
  8. Marcella
    September 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm (9 months ago)

    I’ve never read anything about this RetroMADI.
    Does anybody know if I can get it in Brazil? Or in the US?

    Reply
  9. Joe
    September 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm (10 months ago)

    I just put my cat down because she was sick and tested Felv+ and FIV+…..Only 2 years old. I feel horrible. She just showed signs within the past few weeks. Mostly not eating, not herself, lethargic, tired, and skinny. Happened quickly and I got very concerned. I took her to the Animal Clinic and she tested positive for both felv and fiv….suffered from anemia and her breathing was not right. I feel terrible for putting her down as I think that I could have nursed her back, but the Vet said she would only continue to get worse. For some reason, I have a hard time and just feel guilty about it all. So in short, I just donated my car to the local SPCA. If I couldn’t help my cat, at least I know my donated car may help another. I am NOT a cat person, just a humane person and I just feel guilt about putting her down….

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 11, 2016 at 5:47 am (10 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about your cat, Joe. Losing a cat is always hard, but when it’s a young cat like yours was, it’s especially difficult. I hope in time you can see that there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Be gentle with yourself.

      Reply
      • Joe
        September 11, 2016 at 8:32 pm (10 months ago)

        Thanks Ingrid…..Believe it or not, your words go very far. …Thank you.

        Reply
  10. Richard xia
    June 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm (1 year ago)

    I have had a number of infected kitties in the past, lost them all unfortunately, the last one was in 2013, another rescued young tom, Meiner, named for the neighborhood convenience store where I found him. I learned about LTCI late into his illness when it became virulent but used it anyway. He rallied for six weeks more and gave very optimistic signs. However, eventually he was overwhelmed by the illness. I believe that if l had used the LTCI earlier and over a longer period before his immune system had been so depleted and compromised, we might have saved. If we adopt another infected cat, we will be sure to administer the drug immediately. Studies have shown that using earlier reduces the viral load to an undetectable level.

    Reply
    • TheCatWhisperer
      June 8, 2016 at 11:48 am (1 year ago)

      You should look into getting RetroMAD1. Its an antiviral that kills and inhibits the reproduction of retroviruses like HIV, FIP, FIV, FeLV, and many more. It saved my kitten from FeLV when the Veterinarians said she only had about 10 days to live at most. That was 2 years ago. Its not holistic, its not something that boosts the cat’s immune system, its an antiviral that kills the virus in the blood. Its pretty much side effect free too. Its not a cure but it will keep the cat healthy for as long as you use it. It can be used in conjunction with LTCI but its much less expensive and it worked so well for my cat that I discontinued the LTCI and have been using RetroMAD1 ever since.

      Reply
      • Pat Shannon
        August 30, 2016 at 9:50 am (10 months ago)

        What is RetroMADI? I can’t even find it on google. Please advise. I’ve got an FIV+ cat and need some help. Thanks.

        Reply
        • Pat Shannon
          August 30, 2016 at 9:54 am (10 months ago)

          Where do you get the RetroMADI? From your vet?

          Reply
          • TheCatWhisperer
            September 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm (10 months ago)

            Vets dont even know it exists. Its an unapproved, antiviral that the makers (Scientists) were nice enough to give to me to treat my cat. Do you have an email address I can send you the contact info?

          • Pat Shannon
            October 19, 2016 at 10:43 am (8 months ago)

            Please send me more info on how to get RetroMADI. Thanks.
            pshannon@frontier.com

      • Loretta B
        September 11, 2016 at 9:49 am (10 months ago)

        Where did you get it? I can’t find anywhere that has it. I have a rescue here with 22 cats, all of which have FeLV in various stages of illness.

        Reply
        • Amanda
          September 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm (10 months ago)

          I’d recommend trying LTCI instead of RetroMAD1. It’s much easier to get those shots from your vet, or even straight from the US manufacturer. You have to get the RetroMAD from Malaysia, so it’s a bit more complicated. My vet has successfully treated several animals with FIV and FeLV using LTCI. They’ve made full recoveries and even test negative for it now. You just have to search quite a bit to find a vet who will use it. My experience was that most vets didn’t believe that it worked and refused to even try it, they were very cynical for some reason. But if you look at the LTCI website and call them, they will recommend someone close to you who offers it! Good luck!!

          Reply
          • Loretta
            September 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm (10 months ago)

            I found a veterinary oncologist a few towns over who uses it, but rumor has it, it’s very expensive. Any idea how much it costs?

          • Amanda
            September 11, 2016 at 9:34 pm (10 months ago)

            It depends on the vet I think, but between $50-100 per injection. If you order the shots directly from the manufacturer, they charge $50 per shot, but they are only allowed to ship within certain states. I’m in PA and they couldn’t ship to me, but another member on here was in NY and was able to get them. My vet said they normally start to show improvement after the first shot. The number required for a full recovery depends on the animal and how bad they are, but I’ve heard anywhere from 2-5 can be enough to clear the virus completely!

          • TheCatWhisperer
            September 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm (10 months ago)

            Im not too sure about LTCI. Ive seen people use it and it didnt work but other have had success. RetroMAD1 success rate is way above 95% and its so much cheaper. My cat was IFA positive which according to US Vetenarians is a death sentence but it was not. Two years later my Vet has come to terms that a laymen (me) found a treatment that nobody else knows about and “works miracles” Since you have multiple cats Im sure the makers of RetroMAD would love to work with you. They can use your cats and their healing progress for their studies and believe me they will begin to heal once treatment starts. Can I contact you off this site to give you the contact info?

            Amanda i’m not saying LTCI doesn’t work sometimes, but I wonder will it work on a cat that is IFA positive? Once the retrovirus gets in the cat’s bone marrow the virus can never be “cured” it can always replicate in the future. RetroMAD1 will kill any new replication of the virus and keep it from killing the cat but right now there is no cure for any retrovirus that imbeds itself inside the host’s DNA.

          • Loretta
            September 14, 2016 at 1:49 am (10 months ago)

            You can send the information to LBEN1@msn.com

          • TheCatWhisperer
            September 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm (10 months ago)

            I do know someone who used LTCI on her FIV & FeLV cat and the LTCI successfully treated the FeLV but not the FIV. The cat was literally on its deathbed being syringe fed when I was able to rush her some RetroMAD1 and after 3 days of treatment the cat began to eat on its own. After 3 months of RetroMAD1 the cats FIV viral load went from 13000 to 12 so I have the numbers to back up RetroMAD1’s claims.
            LTCI works by getting the cat’s immune system to kill the retroviruses, RetroMAD1 is an antiviral that kills the viruses by itself. Ideally they are a great combination to use together. Fight the viruses on two fronts.

          • Onder
            November 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm (8 months ago)

            Hello Amanda,

            We are a couple from Turkiye with 5 cats. One of them was unfortunately diagnosed with FIV(+). We have acquired LTCI from the US manufacturer and out vet applied the first three shots in one month. After those shots, her white blood cells have improved significantly but she started suffering from gingivitis and dermatitis. Because of that, our vet was afraid of applying further doses of LTCI, he suspected that our cats immune system have overreacted LCTI with allergic symptoms. This happened in April and we have been waiting since then.

            I was wondering if it would be possible for us to concact your vet, in order to take advice from them about how to apply the LCTI correctly, or ask if we have done something wrong. We really need some advice from a vet with FIV and LCTI experience.
            Greetings.
            Onder and Olcay

          • Name*
            December 21, 2016 at 2:48 pm (6 months ago)

            Just paid the vet $255 for three injections. This is for the LTCI only, not including the office visit.

          • TheCatWhisperer
            February 2, 2017 at 2:34 pm (5 months ago)

            Does the Vet Oncologist fell that LTCI helps cancer?

        • Suzie Loo
          September 13, 2016 at 9:29 pm (10 months ago)

          Dear Loretta B,

          I am from Malaysia and you can contact the maker of Retromad1 directly at contact.us@biovalence.com.my or alternatively call them at 603 79607550. You can speak to Tiffany.

          Reply
    • Cesar
      September 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm (9 months ago)

      I just found out that my kitten has Felv today and would like to help him out as much as possible! Any information you can share regarding RETROMad1 would be great! Thank you!

      Reply
  11. Loretta
    May 10, 2016 at 12:01 am (1 year ago)

    I have an accidental sanctuary of sorts for cats with FeLV. Right now I have 22 cats that have this horrible disease. Last year I lost 5 of them to it. I will have to ask my vet about this medication. I have 3 that are on daily meds to try to keep symptoms under control. Thank you for writing about this.

    Reply

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