While we are still in the midst of a global pandemic and uncharted territories, a surprising discovery involving cats and FIP has emerged with promising possibilities to a better understanding of COVID-19. In fact, cats may hold the key to overcoming the coronavirus.
While the outbreak of COVID-19 came as a shock to many, a similar scenario has already played out in a feline virus decades ago. Feline enteric coronavirus (FECV), the virus responsible for cats developing Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), emerged out of no where in the 1960s. However, scientists and researchers have still not pinpointed the origin of this virus, similar as we are currently still trying to trace back the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.
While this situation is a novel one for humans, it has been seeing the clinical signs for years in cats and kittens infected with FIP. Most cats have no or mild symptoms when infected with FECV. They shed the virus for a short time and then recover. However, small number of infected cats end up developing full-blown FIP,
Although the FDA differentiates between animal and human health, there is potential for scientists, physicians, and researchers to gain further insight, and perhaps even an effective treatment, for COVID-19. One company based in California, Anivive Lifesciences, is applying their knowledge of FIP antiviral therapies to a potential therapy to be used by humans infected with COVID-19. The company has recently filed a pre-Investigational New Drug (pre-IND) to begin preclinical studies for the drug they use to treat FIP, called GC376, for treatment of COVID-19.
However, it is important to clarify that Anivive does not participate in any vivisection, and does not infect cats wtih either SARS-CoV-2 or FECV in their research. They rely on their current FIP data to better understand clinical comparisons during human trials. GC376 inhibits coronaviruses by blocking the action of a protein that the virus needs to replicate itself. In turn, this prevents cells from producing virus particles, which prevents the further spread of the infection through a host, either cat or a human. Anivive is increasing manufacturing capabilities and moving forward more quickly on formulation and stability studies.
Currently, humans are still playing catch-up when it comes to finding a cure or preventive vaccination for COVID-19. However, the information that scientists and researchers have extrapolated from cats infected with FECV and FIP gives a promising hope for a better understanding of SARS-CoV-19 and COVID-19, and hopefully, a chance at finding a cure.
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