Drug in development may help humans, dogs
• In a pre-clinical trial, a drug called Ropesalazine helped improve cognitive function of six companion dogs experiencing severe cognitive dysfunction, according to the manufacturer, GNT Pharma in South Korea. The dogs, whose signs included disorientation, changes in their sleep/wake cycle, increased house soiling and altered interactions with family members, returned to normal cognitive function and interactions after eight weeks of daily administration of the drug. Ropesalazine is intended to prevent inflammation and free radicals that contribute to nerve cell death, amyloid plaque production and neurofibrillary tangle formation. It is being studied for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in humans and may become available for use in companion animals next year.
• Pet ferrets in North America are at risk for genetic disorders and disease because of a lack of genetic diversity, creating a genetic bottleneck. Researchers at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Wyoming are seeking to understand genetics of domestic ferrets with the goal of treating and preventing disease more effectively. Their findings, published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, determined that North American ferret breeding programs would benefit from introduction of more genetically diverse European ferrets as well as minimizing inbreeding among the animals.
• The Million Cat Challenge, created by veterinarians Julie Levy and Kate Hurley, set a goal to save shelter cats from unnecessary euthanasia. Their five-year campaign, from 2014 through 2018, was intended to improve the health and ensure the adoption of shelter animals. They succeeded. So far, more than 1,000 shelters together have saved more than 1,500,000 cats, using techniques that include providing alternatives to giving cats up to shelters, removing barriers to adoption, and spaying or neutering, vaccinating and returning unowned cats to their colonies instead of killing them. The final tally will be released this spring.
— Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
Photo Caption: Cats in shelters can have bleak prospects. The Million Cat Challenge is changing that.