California [US], Dec 26 (ANI): Cats develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which thickens the heart muscle. Cats can develop blood clots in the heart as the disease progresses, which could eventually break loose and lead to excruciating pain, anxiety, or even sudden death.
According to a study published in the Nature Portfolio journal ‘Scientific Reports,’ the Davis College of Veterinary Medicine found that a cat’s DNA affects how it reacts to a life-saving drug used to treat HCM, a condition heart disease that affects one in seven cats. .
“We were constantly seeing cats that, despite taking clopidogrel, were still forming blood clots,” said corresponding author Josh Stern, a professor of veterinary cardiology and geneticist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. This prompted Stern and the research team to begin research in this area and to identify mutations in the drug pathway that seemed important. The data showed that nearly 20% of the cats had resistance to clopidogrel therapy, which is widely used by clinicians around the world.
“This study was trying to find out why some cats did not respond as expected to clopidogrel therapy and led us to a more effective prescription,” Stern said.
The researchers began a clinical trial in cats with HCM. They first tested the cats’ ability to form blood clots. Cat owners were administered clopidogrel for 14 days and the cats were re-evaluated. The researchers were then able to test whether the genetic mutations they had identified within the drug pathway were responsible for reducing the drug’s effectiveness.
“The bottom line is the ability to use a simple genetic test to make an informed decision about which drug therapy may be best for preventing blood clots in cats with HCM,” Stern said.
While tests like this are not yet commercially available, the researchers hope that eventually veterinarians will be able to rapidly test cats with HCM for these mutations as they make prescribing decisions.
“We are very excited to approach this era where personalized or precision medicine in animals can catch up with precision medicine in humans,” said co-author Ronald Li, assistant professor of veterinary emergency and critical care and coagulation researcher, whose laboratory performed much of the functional testing of anticoagulant therapies, adding: “Just as we cannot expect all humans to respond to medications in the same way, we also cannot expect all cats to respond in the same way.”
The researchers hope that in the future, personalized medicine for cats will allow veterinarians to test kittens for a host of genetic variants that would help inform medical decisions and treatments as they grow older and require veterinary care.
Stern and the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital Cardiology Service continue to offer clinical trials aimed at optimizing treatment for cats with HCM. The team has an ongoing fully funded clinical trial of a drug that claims to be the first veterinary drug to reverse this devastating disease.
The research was carried out jointly by the Laboratory of Comparative Physiology of Platelets and Neutrophils and the Laboratory of Pharmacogenomics and Translational Cardiac Genetics, both located within the Companion Animal Health Center. Coauthors on this study also include Karen Vernau, Nghi Nguyen, Maureen Oldach, Eric Ontiveros, and Samantha Kovacs of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; Yu Ueda of North Carolina State University; and Michael Court of Washington State University. The Morris Animal Foundation provided funding to support graduate student research and education. (AND ME)
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