Hypetrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common form of feline heart disease and affects as many as 1 in 7 cats. It can strike any breed of cat at any age. What makes feline heart disease so challenging is the fact that cats rarely show the typical warning signs such as shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, coughing or weakness until the disease is quite advanced.
In a new and exciting project, Dr. Luke Dutton, a PHD student working in association with the Animal Health Trust and the Royal Veterinary College, is creating a novel laboratory stem cell model of feline heart disease, which avoids the use of experimental animals, to study the disease and ultimately test the suitability of new drugs. This project is the first of its kind in the world.
There currently is no cure for HCM, and while it can be managed with medication aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms and helping the heart cope under failing conditions, once treatment fails to reduce symptoms, it can severely affect the cat’s quality of life to the degree where most cat parents elect euthanasia.
Researchers hope that this study will accelerate the discovery of better screening methods and the development of new drugs to treat HCM.
For more information and an interview with Dr. Dutton, please visit the Animal Health Trust website.