We previously reported on a clinical trial that resulted in a critical breakthrough in finding a treatment for cats with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP.) The study, launched in March 2016 by Dr. Yunjeong Kim at Kansas State University and Dr. Niels Pedersen at University of California, Davis, was a small clinical trial to investigate whether a novel antiviral drug could cure or greatly extend the lifespan and quality of life for cats with FIP.
What is FIP?
FIP are just about the three worst letters a cat guardian can hear. Feline Infectious Peritonitis is caused by a coronavirus that affects the cells of the intestinal tract. The corona virus in itself is a common virus in cats, and cats may not even show symptoms other than perhaps a mild gastrointestinal upset. But for reasons that have eluded researchers so far, in some cats, the benign virus mutates into a highly infectious version that then causes FIP. It usually affects kittens and young cats, and it’s virtually 100% fatal. FIP kills as many as 1 in 100 to 1 in 300 cats under the ages of 3-5.
Dr. Kim and Dr. Kyeong-Ok “KC” Chang, virologists in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kanas State University, and William Groutas, a medicinal chemist at Wichita State University, have been collaborating since 2006 on the development of antiviral drugs for important human and animal viruses.
The researchers are now promoting the commercial development of GC376, an antiviral compound for FIP. A licensing agreement coordinated by the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization with Anivive Lifesciences, a California company whose proprietary software accelerates the discovery and development process of new pet medicines, will have both parties working together to hopefully bring this new drug to market.
“The team members from Anivive Lifesciences are committed to developing the compound GC376 for the treatment of FIP with a sense of urgency and we look forward to watching their progress over the coming years,” said Bret Ford, associate director for licensing at the university’s Institute for Commercialization.
The long road to drug approval
The approval process, overseen by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, requires multiple steps documenting the efficacy, safety and manufacturing of the new drug. While the licensing agreement will accelerate the process and time of bringing GC376 to market, it could still be several years before the drug will be available to cat owners.
For more information on the new drug and the process to bring it to market, please visit the Kansas State University website.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.