Printer Friendly

Vaccine for cats' number one killer.

The first vaccine to prevent feline leukemia -- the number one killer in domestic cats -- is being distributed to veterinarians this winter. The vaccine, developed by Richard Olsen, professor of veterinary pathobiology at Ohio State University in Columbus and marketed by Norden Laboratories, Inc., in Lincoln, Neb., is the first vaccine against any cancer in mammals. Anticancer vaccines for chickens and other birds are already in use.

The feline leukemia virus (FLV), discovered in the 1950s to cause a fatal leukemia and other cancers in cats, also causes aplastic anemia, reproductive failure, respiratory infections and immune system failure. The virus's suppression of cats' immune systems can render them susceptible to many other infections that ultimately are fatal.

FLV infects about 1.5 million of the United States' 50 million pet cats and kills about 1 million of these each year. Most cats infected by the virus survive for a few years with little noticeable effect, Olsen says, but later die from immune suppression or other complications caused by the virus. Infected cats can spread the virus to other cats through saliva by grooming each other or sharing food dishes, or possibly through urine by sharing litter pans. Feline leukemia is the first cancer found to be spread by contact, but the virus apparently cannot infect humans or other animals.

The baccine uses two viral proteins instead of killed or modified live virus to immunize cats. Using protein molecules is safer than using whole virus, Olsen says, because the whole virus risks infecting cats and causing a mild case of the disease, including the virus's suppression of the immune system.

One of the proteins protects cats from viral infection caused by FLV. The other prevents tumors caused by the virus, in case cats have already been infected and the vaccine cannot completely prevent FLV's growth. Thus, although the vaccine cannot totally protect cats already infected with FLV, it won't make the disease any worse, Olsen says, and it may even help cats that are in the early stages of the disease.

Can the feline leukemia vaccine provide clues for developing an AIDS vaccine? It's all conjecture at this point, Olsen says. Both FLV and the purported AIDS virus are retroviruses that cause immune suppression. "Conceivably," Olsen says, "the technique used to develop the FLV vaccine can be used to develop an AIDS vaccine."
COPYRIGHT 1985 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:feline leukemia
Author:Bennett, Dawn D.
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 16, 1985
Words:391
Previous Article:Toxic pollutants in 'Chemical Valley'.
Next Article:Funding a faster supercomputer.
Topics:


Related Articles
Catching cats with FeLV.
Cats share their bugs with humans, too.
Feline host range of Canine parvovirus: recent emergence of new antigenic types in cats.
Mutations produce black house cats, jaguars. (Feline Finding).
New find pushes back origin of tamed felines.
Influenza virus type A serosurvey in cats.
10 activists or terrorists? Judge weighs arguments.
Improvement seen in Oregon's small-business growth.
WORK AND PROGRESS.
City gets option to buy 2 Broadway buildings.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters