WCVM researchers looking for cats diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis

Researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) are seeking cats that have been diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) for a clinical trial at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre.

Why is this study important?

No highly sensitive, non-invasive diagnostic test for FIP is currently available to veterinarians, nor is there a commercial treatment for what has otherwise been a fatal disease in cats. 

In this study, WCVM researchers are attempting to find a non-invasive means of definitively diagnosing the disease using PET-CT (positron emission tomography-computed tomography) scans. They’re also using imaging to document remission of the disease with an experimental antiviral therapy. In previous cases, some new experimental antiviral therapies have shown promise for treating cats affected with FIP.

What does the study involve?

The researchers aim to develop a specific PET-CT probe for diagnosing FIP non-invasively. Their plan is to repeat the PET-CT scanning process before and after treatment with an experimental antiviral therapy. This will allow the WCVM team to determine if an eight- to 12-week course of this experimental antiviral therapy is sufficient to induce complete remission of the disease. 

Overall costs, which are covered by the WCVM study, are estimated to be $6,000 per cat. The study will cover:

  • PET-CT imaging
  • required hospitalization
  • eight to 12 weeks of experimental antiviral therapy (estimated cost is about $4,000 if accessed online)

What cats are eligible?

To be eligible, a cat must have a convincing diagnosis of FIP based on a combination of the following: 

  • clinical presentation (effusive form)
  • diagnostic test findings including —
    • anemia with hyperbilirubinemia
    • low A:G ratio
    • hyperproteinemia characterized by a hypergammaglobulinemia
    • evidence of cavitary effusions, granulomas on routine imaging studies (radiographs and ultrasound) (suggestive of FIP)
  • molecular tests showing — 
    • positive PCR on cells in an effusion
    • high serologic antibody titre against feline coronavirus

What are the owners' responsibilities in terms of costs? 

Owners are responsible for costs associated with establishing a presumptive diagnosis of FIP and the cost of follow-up visits for medical care. 

How can I find out more about this study?

If you have a patient that may be eligible for this trial, please contact the study’s research team members:

Dr. Liz Snead, DVM, DACVIM
Associate Professor, Dept. of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM)
University of Saskatchewan
306-966-7200 | ecs212@mail.usask.ca

Dorsa Mehrabanpour
Master of Science (MSc) student
Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM)
University of Saskatchewan | dom140@usask.ca

 Download PDF

Share this story