Dr. Addie’s FIP Research
A Special Note from Dr. Diane D. Addie.
I am often wished well in my search for a cure for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), but, while I appreciate the sentiments of the well-wishers, I am not searching for a cure. I was deeply influenced by my mentor and friend, Professor Oswald Jarrett, who eradicated feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) from cat breeders in the UK: an achievement which has been estimated to have saved the lives of millions of cats over the decades. If we could prevent cat breeders from producing feline coronavirus (FCoV) infected kittens, we could prevent 70% of FIP deaths. This is the aim of my research – to prevent FIP from occurring at all. Prevention is always better than cure.
However, if we are to expect cat breeders to stop producing FCoV-infected kittens with a 1 in 8 chance of dying of FIP, then we must make it easier for cat breeders to eradicate FCoV from their households: at present protecting kittens involves rigorous hygiene precautions. If you choose to fund our research, you will be supporting projects aimed at reducing the amount of virus in pet and breeder households, and in rescue shelters.
My University of Glasgow FIP research eschews the use of laboratory cats.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated… I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
My personal belief is that the murder of animals is morally reprehensible: I have believed that since I was a small child. Killing a healthy animal is wrong: period. I struggle to live up to my ideal. However, I have been greatly blessed in my research in that Prof. Jarrett wasn’t afraid to take under his wing a would-be scientist with such “extreme” views—and he has spent cheerful decades since then teasing me about my vegetarianism! Other vet schools black-listed me because of my views.
An even bigger blessing has been the willingness of pet guardians and their veterinary surgeons to supply samples from naturally-infected cats, literally from around the world—and without them my research would not have been possible. In many instances we found that what was happening in the real world was quite different from the results of deliberate infection of laboratory cats with laboratory strains of FCoV. For example, the FIP literature is full of accounts of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of FIP in which more cats who had previously been exposed to FCoV developed FIP upon subsequent infection, than did the control group being infected with FCoV / FIP for the first time. The theory was that cats with FCoV antibodies were more likely to develop FIP when infected than cats with negative antibody tests: although this happened in the laboratory, in the real world, we showed that this was totally incorrect. However, ADE was a laboratory artefact which scuppered many early vaccine attempts, and which today haunts the FIP vaccine Felocell® FIP and is largely responsible for its under-use.
At EndFIP® we have no vested interests in FIP continuing to exist—we do actually want to see the End of FIP even though we would be putting ourselves out of a job! We have other irons in the fire—other jobs—to provide our personal incomes. This makes all the difference in motivation: we are driven by the desire to see a real improvement in animal welfare, to eradicate a disease which causes totally unnecessary animal suffering. I hope that you will consider that a goal worth contributing to.
Diane D. Addie, PhD, BVMS, MRCVS
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