Miscellaneous questions frequently arising during antiviral drug treatment for FIP and aftercare

23.3.2022
NC. Pedersen, DVM PhD
Original article: Miscellaneous questions frequently arising during antiviral drug treatment for FIP and aftercare

Several issues often arise during FIP treatment. Before addressing these issues, it is important to mention the FIP treatment itself. Only antivirals that target specific viral proteins and inhibit FIP replication have been shown to have therapeutic effects. Currently, these include nucleoside analogs and RNA replication inhibitors GS-441524 (and a related prodrug Remdesivir), Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801) and the viral protease inhibitor GC376. Proper administration of these drugs has resulted in the cure of all forms of FIP in more than 90 % with minimal side effects. Most treatments are completed without complications. However, certain issues that are the subject of this article often arise.  

I pointed out the problems associated with unwanted sexual behavior in intact females and males treated with specific antivirals. The questions often come from countries where castration is either postponed or not common practice. They fear that the stress of castration and vaccines may affect the outcome of antiviral treatment. I believe that such concerns are exaggerated. If a cat is in treatment and in remission or is considered cured, it is okay to sterilize or neuter it, but preferably in the least stressful way possible. Cats can be neutered and sterilized quickly and efficiently and returned to their homes on the same day (castration) or within one day (sterilization) with minimal preoperative, operative and postoperative drug treatment and restrictions (eg cages, E-collars). Such operations will be less stressful for cats (and owners, which will then be reflected in their cats) than their sexual behavior. 

I am also not in favor of hormonal treatment to prevent unwanted sexual behavior in males or females, and I feel that effective castration and sterilization will be less stressful in the long run than such preventive measures. Therefore, if it is necessary to permanently change this behavior, surgical castration is more appropriate than chemical.  

Some owners seem to want to keep cured cats intact so that they can be used for breeding later. We know that FIP has both genetic and environmental components, which has led to the recommendation that purebred cats that breed FIP kittens should not be used for breeding. This should be even more true for cats that have been cured of the FIP.  

As far as vaccines are concerned, many already know that I am not a big fan of adult vaccines and the first annual booster vaccines because I feel that immunity is long-lasting. I also think that rabies vaccines cannot be used routinely in cats, whether in terms of public health or cats. Nevertheless, I accept that these views are not generally accepted and that the laws in several states require rabies to be vaccinated against rabbits, in some vaccination is not required and in others it is recommended but not required. I have not noticed the consequences of routine vaccinations in any of our cured cats. However, it is not something I would recommend for cats undergoing treatment. The immune system of these cats is responsible for other things than responding to vaccines.  

What are the indications for drugs other than specific antivirals for the treatment of FIP? During the initial illness, supportive (symptomatic) treatment may be required to keep the cats alive long enough for the antivirals to take effect. Drugs often used in this early stage usually include antibiotics (doxycycline / clindamycin), analgesics (opioids, gabapentin), anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids, NSAIDS), immunostimulants (interferons, non-specific immunostimulants), and drugs. I have tried to avoid excessive use of these drugs except for temporary use and only if it is strongly justified, especially in severely ill cats during the first days. The most important goal of FIP treatment is to stop the replication of the virus in macrophages, which immediately stops the production of the numerous inflammatory and immunosuppressive cytokines that cause the symptoms of FIP. Although some drugs, such as corticosteroids (prednisolone) or NSAIDs (meloxicam), may inhibit inflammatory cytokines and cause clinical improvement, they are not curative. They can also mask the beneficial effects of GS treatment, which are often monitored to assess the effect and course of treatment. The response to antiviral treatment is also used for diagnostic purposes. The only drugs that completely suppress these harmful cytokines and cure FIP are antivirals such as GS-441524, molnupiravir or GC376, and related compounds. These antivirals cause a dramatic improvement in fever, activity, appetite, etc. within 24-48 hours. This improvement will be much greater than any improvement made with other drugs. Therefore, if the use of other drugs is not warranted, they should be discontinued as soon as the symptoms of FIP have steadily improved. 

I also do not believe in many supplements that are said to treat or prevent problems with the liver, kidneys, immune system or other organs. These supplements are expensive and have not been shown to be effective in what they claim. B12 injections only treat B12 deficiency, which is rare, and not anemia in FIP. The same goes for other vitamins. This also applies to a wide range of nutritional supplements and special diets for cats of many types. There is no essential ingredient in any of these supplements that could be provided by well-tested commercial cat food brands. There is also a possibility that some supplements interfere with the absorption of oral antivirals.  

How should cats be monitored after treatment and during the post-treatment observation period? From a technical point of view, no further blood tests are needed, especially if routine health assessments such as weight, appetite and temperature are continued during this period. Blood tests during this period do not change the outcome and can only increase the cost of treatment and increase the owner's stress. However, it is common for successfully treated cats to routinely test for blood during a 12-week post-treatment observation, usually every 4 weeks, but sometimes more frequently. In some cases, routine blood testing is continued for 12 weeks after treatment, even out of fear of possible relapse or recurrence. Relapses or new infections after a 12-week observation period are rare and are preceded by external signs of the disease, such as weight loss, lethargy, anorexia, poor coat and fever, which would be the best indicators for a blood test. Blood test panels also contain many values, and it is not uncommon for one or more values to be abnormal in healthy cats. Care must be taken not to over-interpret such abnormalities and to lead to excessive concern or additional testing in order to determine their significance. For example, a mild to moderate increase in one in three liver enzymes in a healthy cat is much less important than in another cat with symptoms of the disease. Read "Various issues common during FIP antiviral treatment and aftercare"

The history of Save Our Cats and Kittens over four decades and where we go from here

Niels C. Pedersen, DVM, PhD
December 2021
Original article: The history of Save Our Cats and Kittens over four decades and where we go from here

Niels C. Pedersen

Those who have followed my career know that I have many interests in addition to infectious diseases of cats. However, I am best known for feline medicine and diseases that plague multi-cat environments. This interest in infectious diseases started in 1965 as a second-year veterinary student but evolved after I joined the faculty of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. My first appointment was to help win President Nixon’s war on cancer. This war emphasized potential viral causes of cancer, in particular retroviruses and human leukemias. This was my entry back into the world of feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Of course, my interest was more on FeLV infection as it applied to cats than any application to human cancers. It became rapidly apparent that FeLV infection was a serious panzootic (pandemic) of cats that had unknowingly spread from feral to pet cats in the preceding decades and would account for one-third of mortality in cats in the 1960s and 70s. Cat lovers quickly mobilized once the virus was discovered and started raising money to support FeLV research. The original SOCK was created by a group of amazing cat lovers led by Vince, Connie and Dorothy Campanile and friends. SOCK it to leukemia became the rallying cry of the group and I was privileged to join forces with them from their beginning to end. Thereafter, donations from cat lovers and not federal research funds provided the bulk of our research into FeLV infection at UC Davis. This research led to an understanding of how FeLV became a pandemic of pet cats, how it caused a wide range of diseases, and how it could be controlled. FeLV infection of pet cats was brought under control in the 1970’s and 1980’s through rapid diagnostic tests and vaccination. The conquest of FeLV infection was one of the highlights of veterinary research of the period, and perhaps one of the most important contributions of modern feline medicine in the 20th century. SOCK it to leukemia had ultimately worked itself out of existence with over $1M dollars raised towards the ultimate conquest of FeLV infection. FeLV infection still exists in nature, where it remains a problem for a small number of younger cats coming into foster/rescues and shelters from the field.

During this same period, another highly fatal disease was rearing its head. Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) was first reported in 1963 by veterinarians from the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. It was later found to be closely linked to FeLV infection and the hope was that it would largely disappear with control of FeLV. This did not prove true and FIP soon replaced FeLV as a major infectious cause of deaths in cats up to this time. As a result, the torch was passed from SOCK it to leukemia to SOCK it to FIP. This was also a natural progression for my research. FIP was my first “love” from the time I helped research the first cases of FIP at UC Davis as a veterinary student in 1965. My interest in FIP only took second stage for a brief period in the 1980s with my work on HIV/AIDS and subsequent discovery of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FIP has been my major research interest for the last three decades.

I am pleased to have had the support of SOCK FIP over these later years. One of our greatest discoveries at UC Davis was how an innocuous and ubiquitous feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) ends up causing such a highly fatal disease as FIP. Our theory that the virus of FIP arose as an internal mutation of FECV was first met with great skepticism but is now universally accepted. The internal mutation theory has led to a much better understanding of the conditions under which FIP occurs and how the FIP virus causes disease. Unfortunately, no one, including us, was able to find a successful vaccine for FIP. This failure led to my interest in curing rather than preventing FIP using modern antiviral drugs, which I became familiar with during the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The capstone of my almost 50-year experience with FIP was the discovery of two antiviral drugs that could cure FIP. Thousands of cats from round the world have been cured of FIP with antiviral drugs researched at UC Davis over the last 3 years. Our discoveries at UC Davis could have been impossible without the significant long-term financial and moral support of SOCK FIP and cat owners who have donated money.

The discovery of a cure for FIP has once again brought SOCK FIP to a logical ending, just as the conquest of FeLV infection ended the need for the original SOCK. Although I am retired, I continue to work with cat owners and caregivers on how to use antiviral drugs to treat FIP and will maintain my relationship with SOCK FIP as a consultant on FIP treatment and a lifelong member. Admittedly, there is still research to be done with FIP, mainly in the areas of disease prevention. Hopefully, others will take up this and other areas of FIP research. The question now is how SOCK can best improve the health of our cats and kittens. SOCK FIP is in the process of evaluating a broader mission than just FIP. This mission may or may not involve fund raising for research and could be more informational. We welcome suggestions on how the long history of SOCK’s can be used to improve the health of our cats and kittens. Read "Four Decades Save Our Cats and Kittens and What's Next"

Acute phase proteins in cats

April 2019
Rita Mourão Rosa, Lisa Alexandra Pereira Mestrinho
Original article: Acute phase proteins in cats

ABSTRACT: Acute phase proteins (APPs) are proteins synthesized and released mainly by hepatocytes during cell damage or invasion of microorganisms. This article provides an overview of the use of APP in cat diseases, identifies their usefulness in the clinical setting, and analyzes 55 published papers. Serum amyloid A, alpha-1 acid glycoprotein and haptoglobin are indicators that the authors consider useful in monitoring the acute inflammatory response in cats. Although APP measurement is still not routinely used in veterinary medicine, along with clinical signs and other blood parameters, they are clinically of interest and useful in diseases such as feline infectious peritonitis, pancreatitis, renal failure, retroviral and calicivirus infections. Although there are commercially available kits for measuring feline APPs, standardization of tests for technical simplicity, greater species specificity, and less associated costs will allow for routine use in feline practice, as is the case in the human field.
keywords: inflammation, acute phase proteins, cat.

Introduction

Acute phase response (APR) is an early non-specific systemic innate immune response to a local or systemic stimulus that helps treat and restore homeostasis and minimize tissue damage when an organism is affected by trauma, infection, stress, surgery, neoplasia, or inflammation (GRUYS et al. , 2005; CRAY et al., 2009; ECKERSALL AND BELL, 2010). In this reaction, we observe several different systemic effects: fever, leukocytosis, hormonal changes - mainly cortisol and thyroxine concentrations, with secondary catabolic status and serum muscle, iron and zinc depletion (CERÓN et al. 2005, JAVARD et al. 2017).
Cytokines IL-1β, TNF-α, and especially IL-6, and approximately 90 minutes after injury, increase protein synthesis in hepatocytes, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen, as well as blood leukocytes. These newly formed proteins are called acute phase proteins (APPs) (TIZARD, 2013b).

Acute-phase proteins

APP concentrations may increase (APP positive) or decrease (APP negative) in response to inflammation (PALTRINIERI et al., 2008) (JOHNSTON & TOBIAS, 2018). They can activate leukocytosis and complement, cause protease inhibition, lead to blood clotting and opsonization - a defense mechanism that leads to the elimination of infectious agents, tissue regeneration and restoration of health (CRAY et al., 2009). APP can have two functions, pro- and / or anti-inflammatory, which must be fine-tuned to promote homeostasis (HOCHEPIED et al., 2003).

According to the size and duration of the reaction following the stimulus, three main groups of APP are distinguished (MURATA et al., 2004; PETERSEN et al., 2004; CERÓN et al.). Positive APP can be divided into two groups: the first group includes APP with an increase of 10 up to 1000-fold in humans or 10- to 100-fold in domestic animals in the presence of inflammation - e.g. c-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA). The second group are APPs, which increase 2 to 10-fold in an inflammatory response - e.g. haptoglobin and alpha-globulins. The last group included negative APP, in which the concentration decreases in response to inflammation - e.g. albumin (KANN et al., 2012).

Acute phase positive proteins


Positive APPs are glycoproteins whose serum concentrations, when stimulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines, increase by 25 % during the disease process and are released into the bloodstream. These concentrations can be measured and used in diagnosis, prognosis, monitoring of response to treatment, as well as general health screening. They can also be considered as quantitative biomarkers of the disease, highly sensitive to inflammation but not very specific, as an increase in APP can also occur in non-inflammatory diseases (CERÓN et al., 2005; ECKERSALL and BELL, 2010).

Positive APPs respond to cytokines differently, and these groups fall into two main classes. Type 1 APP, which includes AGP, complement component 3, SAA, CRP, haptoglobin and hemopexin, is regulated by IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α as well as glucocorticoids. Type 2, which includes three fibrinogen chains (α-, β- and γ-fibrinogen) and various inhibitory proteases, is regulated by cytokines IL-6 and glucocorticoids (BAUMANN et al., 1990; BAUMANN & GAULDIE, 1994).

In cats, APP SAA or alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) is the most important. Blood SAA levels may indicate inflammatory conditions such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and other infectious diseases such as calicivirus infection, chlamydia, leukemia and infectious immunodeficiency, as they increase 10- to 50-fold (TIZARD, 2013b). SAA can also be increased in other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and cancer. Haptoglobin usually increases 2- to 10-fold and is particularly high in FIP (TIZARD, 2013b). Table 1 summarizes the individual positive APPs in the context of feline disease.

Acute phase negative proteins

The most significant negative APP is albumin, whose blood concentration decreases during APR due to amino acid aberrations towards the synthesis of positive APPs (CRAY et al., 2009; PALTRINIERI, 2007a). Other negative APPs are transferrin, transthyretin, retinol ligand, and cortisol binding protein, proteins involved in vitamin and hormone transport (JAIN et al., 2011).

Acute phase proteins in cat disease

Unlike cytokines, which are small in size and rapidly filtered by the kidney, acute phase proteins have a higher molecular weight (greater than 45 kDa) and consequently remain in plasma for longer (SALGADO et al., 2011).

APP levels can only indicate inflammation, and consequently their concentrations can help diagnose and monitor the disease. APP can help detect subclinical inflammation, distinguish acute from chronic disease, and predict its course (VILHENA et al, 2018; JAVARD et al., 2017). Because APRs begin before specific immunological changes occur, they can be used as an early marker of disease before leukogram changes occur, with their magnitude related to disease severity (PETERSEN et al., 2004; CÉRON et al., 2005; VILHENA et al., 2005). , 2018). For this reason, disease monitoring can be considered one of the most interesting and promising applications of APP.

APP levels along with clinical signs and blood tests have been evaluated in a variety of animal diseases (ie, FIP, canine inflammatory disease, leishmaniasis, ehrlichiosis, and canine pyometra) and have been shown to be useful in diagnosis, response to treatment, and prognosis (ECKERSALL et al. ), 2001; MARTINEZ-SUBIELA et al., 2005; SHIMADA et al., 2002; JERGENS et al., 2003; GIORDANO et al., 2004; PETERSEN et al., 2004; DABROWSKI et al., 2009; VILHENA et al., 2018).

To obtain complete information on APR, one major and one moderate positive as well as one negative APP should be evaluated simultaneously (CERÓN et al., 2008). High concentrations of major APP are usually associated with infectious diseases, usually systemic bacterial infection or immune-mediated disease (CERÓN et al., 2008; TROÌA et al., 2017). Although APPs should be analyzed along with white blood cell and neutrophil counts, they are most sensitive in the early detection of inflammation and infection (CERÓN et al., 2008; ALVES et al., 2010). However, the specificity of these proteins is low in determining the cause of the process, and also increases in physiological conditions such as pregnancy (PALTRINIERI et al., 2008).

APPThe disease
SAAFIP
Induced inflammation and surgery
Various diseases (pancreatitis, renal failure, FLUTD, tumors, diabetes mellitus; kidney disease, injury, etc.)
Sepsis
FeLV; hemotropic mycoplasma infections
Hepatozoonfelis and Babesia vogeli infection
Dirofilariaimmitis
FIV cats treated with recombinant feline interferon
AGPChlamydophila psittaci infection;
Pancreatitis and pancreatic tumors
FIP
Lymphoma and other tumors
Induced inflammation and surgery
FIV cats treated with recombinant feline interferon
Abscesses, pyothorax, adipose tissue necrosis
Various diseases (FLUTD, tumors, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, injuries, etc.)
HaptoglobinFIP
Induced inflammation and surgery
Abscesses, pyothorax, adipose tissue necrosis
Various diseases (FLUTD, tumors, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, injuries, etc.)
Hepatozoonfelis and Babesia vogeli infection
FeLV, hemotropic mycoplasmas
Dirofilariaimmitis
CRPFIV cats treated with recombinant feline interferon
Induced inflammation and surgery
Table 1 - Acute phase proteins studied for feline diseases.
Legend: Serum amyloid A (SAA), α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP), systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), immunodeficiency virus cats (FIV); feline calicivirus (FCV).

Figure 1 shows the expected behavior of acute phase positive proteins based on revised studies. AGP, SAA and haptoglobin have been identified as useful indicators for monitoring the acute inflammatory response in cats (WINKEL et al., 2015; PALTRINIERI et al., 2007a, b; KAJIKAWA et al., 1999). APPs in cats were first identified after comparative measurements in the serum of clinically normal and diseased animals, in experimentally induced inflammation studies, and in postoperative studies (KAJIKAWA et al., 1999). The concentration of SAA reportedly increased first, followed by an increase in AGP and haptoglobin, in contrast to a less pronounced increase in CRP (KAJIKAWA et al., 1999). One study showed that CRP behaves similarly to SAA and AGP in cat inflammation (LEAL et al., 2014).

Serum Amyloid A

SAA is one of the major APPs in several species, important in both humans and cats (KAJIKAWA et al., 1999). It modulates the immune response by attracting inflammatory cells to tissues and leading to the production of multiple inflammatory cytokines (GRUYS et al., 2005; TIZARD, 2013a). Its concentration can increase more than 1,000 times in an inflammatory condition, which we then understand as inflammation (TAMAMOTO et al., 2013). However, such an increase can be observed in both non-inflammatory and inflammatory diseases and neoplasms (TAMAMOTO et al., 2013). According to a study in cats that underwent surgery, SAA levels begin to increase approximately 3 to 6 hours, peaking 21 to 24 hours after surgery (SASAKI et al., 2003).

Figure 1 - Idealized behavior of acute phase proteins in cats after inflammatory stimuli. The values representing the changes cannot be considered absolute. Increase in serum amyloid A (SAA) 3 to 6 h after challenge, peak at 21 to 24 h, peak size 10 to 50 times its basal plasma concentration. Alpha 1 acid glycoprotein (AGP) increases 8 h after challenge, peak at 36 h, size at peak time 2 to 10 times its baseline plasma concentration. Haptoglobulin (Hp) increase 24 h after challenge, peak 36 to 48 h, peak size 2 to 10 times its basal plasma concentration. C-reactive protein (CRP) increased 8 h after challenge, peak at 36 h, peak size 1.5 times its basal values.

Alpha 1-acid glycoprotein

Alpha 1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) is an acute phase-reactive protein found in the serum mucoid portion of serum (SELTING et al., 2000; WINKEL et al., 2015). Like most positive APPs, AGP is a glycoprotein synthesized predominantly by hepatocytes in APR and released into the bloodstream (CÉRON et al., 2005).

AGP can be used to monitor early interferon treatment in cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) (GIL et al., 2014). AGP as well as haptoglobin (Hp) are increased in anemic cats suffering from pyothorax, abscesses or fat necrosis (OTTENJANN et al., 2006).

Changes in AGP in feline neoplasia do not appear to be consistent across studies. Some of them do not describe any changes in cats with lymphoma (CORREA et al., 2001). Others point to an increase in both AGP and SAA in cats with sarcomas, carcinomas, or other round cell tumors (SELTING et al., 2000; TAMAMOTO et al., 2013; MEACHEN et al., 2015; HAZUCHOVA et al., 2017).

AGP is important as an indicator test for FIP, which is used specifically in Europe (CECILIANI et al., 2004). GIORI et al. examined the specificity and sensitivity of several tests in 12 cats, with 33.33 % cats being FIP negative based on histopathology and immunohistochemistry and 66.66 % cats being FIP positive confirmed by histopathology and immunohistochemistry. This author concludes that immunohistochemistry must always be performed to confirm FIP, but high concentrations of AGP can help support the diagnosis of FIP if immunohistochemistry cannot be performed and histopathology is not convincing.

Haptoglobin

Haptoglobin (Hp) is one of the most important acute phase proteins in cattle, sheep, goats, horses and cats (TIZARD, 2013a), synthesized mainly by hepatocytes but also by other tissues such as skin, lungs and kidneys (JAIN et al, 2011 ). Hp binds to iron molecules and makes them inaccessible to invasive bacteria, thereby inhibiting bacterial proliferation and invasion. Subsequently, it also binds to free hemoglobin, thus preventing its oxidation with lipids and proteins (TIZARD, 2013a), which justifies a reduction in Hp in case of hemolysis.

In cats, Hp usually increases 2- to 10-fold in inflammatory conditions, and is particularly high in FIP (TIZARD, 2013a). However, both Hp and SAA did not provide sufficient support to distinguish FIP from other causes of effusion compared to AGP (HAZUCHOVÁ et al., 2017).

Measurement APP

The serum is composed of a large number of individual proteins in which the detection of changes in its fractions can provide important diagnostic information (ECKERSALL, 2008).

Ideally, measurement of all serum proteins should be available so that they can be used as a diagnostic tool in relation to inflammatory diseases.
Currently, APPs (Table 2) can be determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), radioimmunoassay, nephelometry, immunoturbidimetry (IT), Western blot, and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) analysis (CÉRON et al., 2005; PALTRINIERI et al., 2008; SCHREIBER et al., 1989). Although some human APP tests have been automated for veterinary medicine, species-specific tests are still limited. Cross-species differences in APP and the limited availability of cross-reactive agents have so far contributed to the low routine level of APP determination in veterinary laboratories, especially in cats. Regardless, the technology is evolving and routine monitoring of clinically relevant APPs in cats can be expected in the near future.

Conclusion

Acute phase proteins in cats are biomarkers suitable for monitoring inflammation, along with other clinical and laboratory findings that are useful in diagnosing subclinical changes, monitoring the development and effect of the disease in the body, as well as in evaluating the response to treatment.

In cats, SAA APP, which is most pronounced in response to inflammation, is followed by AGP and haptoglobin, in contrast to CRP, which is used in other species.

Although there are commercially available kits for determining feline APPs, standardization of tests for technical simplicity, higher species specificity with lower associated costs will allow routine use in feline practice, as is done in human medicine.

AnalyzesProsCons
Radioimmunoassay24 to 48 hours to obtain results, specific operator skills required
ELISACommercially available species-specific kitsLack of automation, expensive, some "between-run" inaccuracy
Immunoturbidimetry30 minutes to obtain results, customizable with a biochemical analyzer
Western BlotLong time for immunoblot processing
Nephelometric immunoassaysThey depend on the cross-reactivity of the increased antiserum
Table 2 - Advantages and disadvantages of possible APP measurement techniques.

Appendix: APP and their position in the electrophoretogram

Although there are tests directly for a specific APP, it is useful to know in which region the electrophoretograms are located.

Electrophoretogram demonstration (Serum protein electrophoresis output)
Serum proteinElectrophoretic region
α1-acid glycoproteinα1 (alpha-1)
Serum Amyloid Aα (alpha)
Haptoglobinα2 (alpha-2)
Ceruloplasmin α2 (alpha-2)
Transferrinβ1 (beta-1)
C-reactive proteinγ (gamma)
Position of serum proteins in electrophoretogram

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Alternative treatments for cats with FIP and natural or acquired resistance to GS-441524

Niels C. Pedersen, Nicole Jacque, 3.11. 2021
Original article: Alternative treatments for cats with FIP and natural or acquired resistance to GS-441524

Abbreviations:
SC - subcutaneous
IV - intravenous
IM - to the muscle
PO - per os - orally
SID - once a day
BID - 2x this
q24h - once every 24 hours
q12h - once in 12 hours

Introduction

Antiviral resistance is well documented in diseases such as HIV / AIDS and hepatitis C. In some cases, this resistance is present in the infecting virus, but is more often due to long-term drug exposure. Resistance to GC376 [1] and GS-441524 [2] has also been documented in cats with naturally acquired FIP. Resistance develops based on mutations in regions of the viral genome that contain targets for the antiviral drug. For example, several amino acid changes (N25S, A252S or K260N) were detected in the GIP376-resistant FIPV isolate (3CLpro). [3]. A change in N25S in 3CLpro was found to cause a 1.68-fold increase in 50 % GC376 inhibitory concentration in tissue cultures [3]. Resistance to GC376, although recognized in initial field trials, has not yet been described. GC376 is less popular in the treatment of FIP and is not recommended for cats with ocular or neurological FIP. [1].

Natural resistance to GS-441524 was observed in one of 31 cats treated for naturally occurring FIP [2]. One of the 31 cats in the original GS-441524 field study also appeared to be resistant, as viral RNA levels did not decrease throughout the treatment period and the symptoms of the disease did not abate. Although this virus has not been studied, resistance to GS-5734 (Remdesivir), a prodrug of GS-441524, has been established in tissue culture by amino acid mutations in RNA polymerase and corrective exonuclease. [4].

Resistance to GS-441524 has been confirmed in a number of cats that have been treated for FIP with GS-441524 in the last 3 years, especially among cats with neurological FIP [5]. Resistance to GS441524 is usually partial and higher doses often cure the infection or significantly reduce the symptoms of the disease during treatment. Interestingly, resistance to GS-441524 has also been found in patients with Covid19 treated with Remdesivir [12]. An immunocompromised patient developed a prolonged course of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Remdesivirus treatment initially alleviated symptoms and significantly reduced virus levels, but the disease returned with a large increase in virus replication. Whole genome sequencing identified an E802D mutation in nsp12 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase that was not present in pre-treatment samples and caused a 6-fold increase in resistance.

Although the history of molnupiravir and its recent use in the treatment of FIP has been described [6], there are currently no studies documenting natural or acquired resistance to molnupiravir. Molnupiravir has been shown to function as an RNA mutagen causing several defects in the viral genome [7]while remdesivir / GS-441524 is a non-binding RNA chain terminator [8], which suggests that its resistance profile will be different.

Overcoming resistance to GS-441524

Drug resistance can only be overcome in two ways: 1) by gradually increasing the dose of the antiviral to achieve drug levels in body fluids that exceed the resistance level, or 2) by using another antiviral that has a different mechanism of resistance, either alone or in combination. So far, the first option has been chosen, which has proved effective in many cases. However, resistance to GS-441524 may be complete or so high that increasing the dose is no longer effective. In such cases, the second option is increasingly used. Currently available alternatives to GS-441524, although still from an unapproved market, are GC376 and molnupiravir.

Antiviral drug treatment regimens for resistance to GS-441524

GC376 / GS-441524


The combined GS / GC regimen has been shown to be effective in cats treated with GS-441524 at doses up to 40 mg / kg without cure due to resistance to GS-441524. It is better to intervene as soon as resistance to GS-441524 is detected, which will allow the cat to be cured sooner and at lesser cost to the owner.

Rainman is the current supplier of GC376, which comes in 4 ml vials at a concentration of 53 mg / ml.

GS / GC dosage: The dose of GS (SC or PO equivalent) in combination antiviral therapy is the same as the dose needed to adequately control the symptoms of the disease. This is usually the last dose used before the end of treatment and relapse. To this dose of GS-441524, GC376 is added at a dose of 20 mg / kg SC q24h regardless of the form of FIP. This is sufficient for most cats, including many cats with neuro FIP, but some will need higher doses. If remission of clinical signs is not achieved or blood tests are of concern, the dose of GC376 is increased by 10 mg / kg up to 50 mg / kg SC q24h.

Duration of treatment: An eight-week combination GC / GS treatment is recommended, which is added to previous GS monotherapy. Some cats were cured at 6 weeks of combination therapy, but relapse is more likely than at 8 weeks.

Side effects: Most cats have no serious side effects. However, about one in five cats may experience nausea or discomfort at the beginning of treatment and sometimes longer. These side effects do not appear to be dose dependent and can be treated with anti-nausea drugs such as Cerenia, Ondansetron or Famotidine. Ondansetron appears to have performed better in some cats.

Molnupiravir

Molnupiravir has been reported to be effective in monotherapy in cats with FIP by at least one Chinese retailer GS-441524 [9], but there are no reports of its use in cats with resistance to GS-441524. However, resistance to GS-441524 is unlikely to spread to molnupiravir. The fact that it has been found to be effective as an oral medicine also makes it attractive for treatment alone, as many cats resistant to GS-441524 have suffered from injections for a very long time.

A field study of molnupiravir reportedly consisted of 286 cats with various forms of naturally occurring FIP, which were examined in pet clinics in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Romania, Turkey and China. Among the 286 cats that participated in the trial, no deaths occurred, including seven cats with ocular (n = 2) and neurological (n = 5) FIP. Twenty-eight of these cats were cured after 4-6 weeks of treatment and 258 after 8 weeks. All treated cats remained healthy 3-5 months later, a period during which cats that were not successfully cured would be expected to relapse. These data provide convincing evidence of the safety and efficacy of molnupiravir in cats with various forms of FIP. However, we hope that this field study will be written in the form of a manuscript, submitted for review and published. Nevertheless, it is now sold to cat owners with FIP. At least one other major retailer of GS-441524 is also interested in using molnupiravir for FIP, indicating a demand for further treatment of cats with FIP antivirals.

Molnupiravir dosage: The safe and effective dosing of molnupiravir in cats with FIP has not been established based on closely controlled and monitored field studies such as those performed for GC376 [1] and GS-441524. [2]. However, at least one seller from China in his flyer for a product called Hero-2801 [9] provided some pharmacokinetic and field trials of Molnuparivir in cats with naturally occurring FIP. This information does not clearly state the amount of molnupiravir in one of their “50 mg tablets” and the actual dosing interval (q12h or q24h?). The dose used in this study also appeared to be too high. Fortunately, the estimated starting dose of molnupiravir in cats with FIP can be obtained from published studies on EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801. [15] in vitro on cell cultures and laboratory and field studies GS-441524 [14,18]. Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801) has an EC50 of 0.4 μM / μl against FIPV in cell culture, while the EC50 of GS-441524 is approximately 1.0 μM / μl. [18]. Both have a similar oral absorption of approximately 40-50 %, so an effective subcutaneous (SC) dose of molnupiravir would be approximately half the recommended starting dose of 4 mg / kg SC q24h for GS441524. [14] or 2 mg / kg SC q24h. The oral (PO) dose would be doubled to account for less effective oral absorption per 4 mg / kg PO q24h dose. The estimated initial effective oral dose of molnupiravir in cats with FIP can also be calculated from the available Covid-19 treatment data. Patients treated with Covid-19 are given 200 mg of molnupiravir PO q12h for 5 days. This dose was, of course, calculated from a pharmacokinetic study performed in humans, and if the average person weighs 60-80 kg (70 kg), the effective inhibitory dose is 3,03.0 mg / kg PO q12h. The cat has a basal metabolic rate 1.5-fold higher than humans, and assuming the same oral absorption in both humans and cats, the minimum dose for cats according to this calculation would be 4.5 mg / kg PO q12h in neocular and non-neurological forms of FIP. If molnupiravir crosses the blood-brain and blood-brain barriers with the same efficacy as GS-441524 [3,18], the dose should be increased to 1,51.5 and 2,02.0-fold to ensure adequate penetration into aqueous humor and cerebrospinal fluid for ocular cats (88 mg / kg PO, q12 h), respectively. neurological FIP (~ 10 mg / kg PO, q12 h). These doses are comparable to those used in ferrets, where 7 mg / kg q12h maintains sterilizing blood levels of the influenza virus drug (1.86 μM) for 24 hours. [10]. Doses in ferrets of 128 mg / kg PO q12h caused almost toxic blood levels, while a dose of 20 mg / kg PO q12h caused only slightly higher blood levels. [10].

Molnupiravir / GC376 or Molnupiravir / GS-441524

Combinations of molnupiravir with GC376 or GS-441524 will be used more and more frequently, not only to synergy or complement their individual antiviral effects, but also as a way to prevent drug resistance. Medicinal cocktails have been very effective in preventing drug resistance in HIV / AIDS patients [11]. However, there is currently insufficient evidence on the safety and efficacy of the combination of molnupiravir with GC376 or GS-441524 as initial treatment for FIP.

Case studies


Rocky - DSH MN Neuro FIP


A 9-month-old neutered domestic shorthair cat obtained as a rescue kitten had several weeks of seizures with increasing frequency, ataxia and progressive paresis. The blood tests were unremarkable. FIP treatment was started at a dose of 15 mg / kg BID GS-441524, which decreased to SID for about a week. The cat showed improvement, seizures stopped, and mobility increased within 24 hours of starting treatment. Within 5 days of treatment, the cat was able to move again. However, approximately 2 weeks after the start of treatment, the cat experienced loss of vision, decreased mobility, recovery of seizures and difficulty swallowing. Dose adjustments of levetiracetam and prednisolone were made, as well as a change in the composition of GS-441524, followed by a temporary improvement in motility and swallowing and a reduction in seizures, but overall the cat's condition worsened. The dose of GS-441524 was gradually increased to 25 mg / kg, with little or no improvement. At this point, GS was taken orally at a dose of 25 mg / kg (estimated to be approximately 12.5 mg / kg) and within 3 days, the cat began to move, improved vision, and stopped seizures with increased energy and appetite. Improvement in cats continued for approximately 4 weeks with oral administration of GS-441524, then stopped for approximately 3 weeks before rapidly progressing paresis. Oral doses up to 30 mg / kg SC equivalent have been tested but have no effect. GS-441524 was then injected at a dose of 20 mg / kg and the cat was able to move again within 4 days with good appetite and energy. After 2 weeks, a dose of GC376 20 mg / kg BID was added to the dosing regimen. The cat terminated 6 weeks of the GS441524 and GC376 combination therapy and then discontinued the treatment. Although the cat has certain permanent neurological deficits, its condition is stable, it has good mobility, appetite and activity for 9 months after the end of antiviral treatment.

Rocky's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXB_NnfcMOY

Bucky - DSH MN Neuro / Eyepiece FIP


A four-month-old neutered domestic shorthair cat obtained as a rescue kitten was presented with a monthly history of lethargy and a progressive history of ataxia, hind limb paresis, spades, uveitis, anisocoria, and urinary and stool incontinence. Blood tests were mostly uncommon, with the exception of mild hyperglobulinemia. The A / G ratio was 0.6. The cat was treated with 10 mg / kg GS-441524 SC SID for 3 weeks. Activity, mentation and uveitis improved within 72 hours of starting treatment. During the first 2 weeks, a slow improvement in mobility and eye symptoms was observed, but then a plateau was reached. After 3 weeks, the dose of GS-441524 was increased to 15 mg / kg GS-441524 SC SID due to persistent neurological and ocular deficits. In addition, enlargement of the left eye due to glaucoma was noted at this time and the eye continued to swell until it was removed at week 8 of treatment.
Due to persistent weakness / lack of pelvic coordination and increasing lethargy, dose GS-441524 was increased to 20 mg / kg SC SID [or equivalent oral dose] at week 9 and 20 mg / kg SC BID was added to the regimen a few days later. GC376. Significantly increased activity and willingness to jump on elevated surfaces occurred within 48 hours of starting GS376 treatment. The combination treatment of GS-441524 and GC376 was maintained for 8 weeks. The cat has residual incontinence problems after treatment, but is otherwise clinically normal 6 months after treatment.

Boris - Maine Coon MI wet eye FIP


The five-month-old intact (uncastrated) Maine Coon cat, obtained from the breeder, had lethargy, anorexia, abdominal ascites, cough, anemia and neutrophilia. No biochemical analysis was performed to establish the diagnosis. The cat was treated with 6 mg / kg GS-441524 SC SID for 8 weeks. After six weeks of treatment, X-rays revealed nodules in the lungs, and after 8 weeks, hyperglobulinemia persisted. The GS-441524 dose was then increased to 8 mg / kg SC SID for 4 weeks. There was little improvement in blood tests and X-rays and the dose of GS-441524 was increased to 12 mg / kg SC SID over 4 weeks, followed by an increase to 17 mg / kg over 11 weeks, 25 mg / kg over 4 weeks and 30 mg / kg for 4 weeks. After 25 weeks of treatment, ultrasound revealed pleural abnormalities on the left side and X-rays showed no improvement in the pulmonary nodules. In addition, uveitis and retinal detachment have been reported in the right eye. Pulmonary aspirates that showed FIP-compliant inflammation were collected. After 33 weeks of treatment, 20 mg / kg SC BID GC376 was added to the regimen and the combined treatment of GS-441524 and GC376 was continued for 12 weeks. Increased activity was noted over several days. Over the course of 5 weeks, the weight gain accelerated, the cough subsided and the energy level increased. Blood tests showed an improvement in the A / G ratio, and chest X-rays showed a reduction in the lungs. After 84 days of combination antiviral therapy, the A / G ratio was 0.85 and the cat appeared clinically normal. The cat is currently 3 months after treatment.

References

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FIP treatment with subcutaneous remdesivir followed by GS-441524 oral tablets

Richard Malik DVSc PhD FACVS FASM Center for Veterinary Education, University of Sydney
Original article: Treatment of FIP in cats with subcutaneous remdesivir followed by oral GS-441524 tablets

Translator's note: The article contains information about the real content of GS-441524 in tablets. However, this content may not correspond to the "equivalent" amount of GS-441524 in tablets from other manufacturers, where the actual content of GS-441524 is always slightly higher due to the known reduced oral bioavailability of the drug. Therefore, it is not possible to easily and unambiguously compare the recommended dosage of GS-441524 from BOVA in Australia and in our country.

Introduction

Infectious feline peritonitis (FIP) is an infectious disease, especially of young cats. It occurs when a feline enteric coronavirus that multiplies in the gut undergoes a critical mutation that changes its tissue tropism from enterocytes to macrophages. The FIP virus then circulates in the body in macrophages - this is the ultimate mechanism of the Trojan horse. This leads to disseminated infection and the development of fibrinoid necrotizing vasculitis and serositis due to the deposition of immune complexes consisting of feline antibodies and FIP viral antigens.

In general, there are two forms of FIP - effusive ("wet") FIP and non-effusive ("dry") FIP. The disease process itself can occur in the abdomen, thoracic cavity, pericardium, eyes or central nervous system. Combinations of dry and wet FIP with various tissues are not uncommon.

Until recently, the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) was a death judgment for a feline patient. In recent years, however, this vision has been turned upside down as a result of the pioneering work of Professor Niels C. Pedersen and colleagues at UC Davis.

Over the last 12 months, many veterinarians in Australia have also successfully managed many cases of FIP using remdesivir and GS-441524.

Omega-interferon (Virbagen) and polyprenyl immunostimulant (PPI) were the first drugs used to treat FIP, and both had some effects in some patients. Omega interferon has been useful in cases of effusive ("wet") FIP, often combined with low-dose prednisolone according to the Ishid protocol, while PPI, pioneered by Al Legendre, has been more useful in cases of non-fusible FIP. In some cases, both drugs were used at the same time. The problem was that both forms of therapy were often expensive, especially when both drugs were used, so that although patients improved and could have transient clinical remissions during treatment, permanent clinical cures were rare. As a result, most veterinarians still considered the diagnosis of FIP a prelude to euthanasia.

That all changed a few years ago thanks to the culmination of FIP's lifelong research. Niels Pedersen. Niels is an amazing North American veterinarian of Danish descent. He grew up on a chicken farm and originally wanted to be a clinician for large animals, but with great foresight he decided on a scientific career. Shortly after graduating, he traveled to Canberry to the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU, where in the late 1960s he received a PhD in kidney transplant rejection immunology from Professor Bede Morris, using sheep as an experimental model to study lymphocyte kinetics.

When Niels returned to UC Davis, he focused on studying infections and immunity. Although he has contributed to a large number of topics in internal medicine and the genomics of dogs and cats, FIP has become his favorite disease due to its commonness and current complexity. His studies date from the 1980s, when he specialized in diagnostics, virology and pathogenesis, to the present, with an increasing focus on therapy.

Niels, in collaboration with colleagues from Kansas State University, has shown that a purposefully designed protease inhibitor GC-376 could prevent and cure experimentally induced FIP in laboratory cats.1,2 Field clinical trials with cats with naturally occurring disease have been disappointing, especially when cats have had an ocular form of FIP or CNS disease. He did not give up, so he switched to another drug - GS-4415243,4 - a nucleoside analogue developed by the North American pharmaceutical company Gilead. This molecule has been shown to be much more effective than GC-376 in the treatment of FIP, both in experimental infections and in spontaneous cases of FIP. Starting with pharmacokinetics and dose escalation studies using a wide range of clinical cases, Niels and colleagues found that the required dose depended on whether the patient had dry or wet FIP and whether the eye or central nervous system (CNS) was affected.5

Surprisingly, Gilead, the manufacturer who developed GS441524, has not yet shown interest in developing this molecule for the treatment of cats. To fill the gap for effective FIP therapy around the world, various laboratories in China and Eastern Europe have begun producing GS-441524 and selling it on the black market.

The wide availability of the GS-441524, often of high quality and initially very high price, provided dedicated owners with a way to save their cats with FIP. Studies by clinical pathologist Samantha Evans of Ohio State University have indicated a cure rate of approximately 80 % in the field. Until recently, the procurement of the drug was complicated and full of problems, which at some level were circumvented by various "FIP Warriors" groups on Facebook. Unfortunately for Australian cat lovers, APVMA and Vet Boards finally understood what was going on and the Border Force made it much more difficult to obtain GS-441524 and its safe import for veterinary use. Regulatory and Veterinary Committees' warnings against prosecutors were directed against veterinarians who allowed cats with FIP to be treated with black market drugs.

Ironically, the COVID 19 pandemic provided a new solution to this problem. Gilead developed remdesivir (GS-5734) as a drug for the treatment of hepatitis C, Ebola and human coronavirus disease. Remdesivir is a prodrug of GS-441524, which contains an additional chemical side chain (including a phosphate group) to improve intracellular penetration (Figure 1B). Remdesivir (as a product of Veklura) obtained a temporary marketing authorization (for two years) from TGA in July 2020 for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections in human patients with COVID-19. This registration process would normally take several years, but the severity of the pandemic has accelerated this process, taking into account preliminary data from clinical trials. As remdesivir became a licensed human drug and Gilead licensed production worldwide, it meant more access to quality raw material. This circumvented the problems with the use of the drug purchased on the black market, as well as the problems of unknown purity and consistency of the product over time.

In 2020, the veterinary compounding company BOVA Australia provided reliable supplies of remdesivir in a suitable format for IV and subcutaneous application. Studies in Australia have determined that the shelf life after reconstitution exceeds 12 days and have confirmed in vitro efficacy against coronaviruses in tissue cultures. The analytical purity of the drug is regularly checked by HPLC. Over the past year, veterinarians in every Australian state have used remdesivir to treat cats with FIP. There have been a number of effusive and non-fusive cases, including some cats with ocular disorders (uveitis) and others with multifocal CNS disease. Based on treatment of approximately 500 cats treated between October 2020 and November 2021, remdesivir has been shown to be highly effective in managing FIP infections. It allows for a slightly simpler subcutaneous administration and the injection appears to be slightly less painful compared to GS-441524 and does not cause the local injection site reactions observed with GS-441524 injection. Remdesivir was originally used exclusively in Australia, although it has also been available in the UK from BOVA UK for the last 2 months.

The molecular weight of remdesivir is 603 g / mol, while the molecular weight of GS-441524 is 291 g / mol. This could suggest that treatment of cats with remdesivir requires approximately twice the dose of GS-441524, although this does not take into account the possible improvement in intracellular penetration of remdesivir into certain tissues compared to GS-441524. The proposed dose of remdesivir in human patients with COVID19 is 200 mg intravenously (IV), followed by 100 mg IV daily. For a 70 kg human patient, this represents a daily dose of 1.3 mg / kg, so using allometric scaling, a dose of 5-10 mg / kg per day was considered correct for a cat. However, our experience with the first 500 cases was that many cats eventually needed a higher dose of remdesivir for permanent cure, so we adjusted our recommended dosage upwards (see below). Remdesivir provides BOVA as a sterile 10 mg / ml solution ready for use in a 10 ml vial.

Figure 1. (A) BOVA Remdesivir reconstituted and ready for treatment. After reconstitution, the contents of the vial are stable for at least 120 days at 5 ° C - and the vial is usually consumed in 3-7 days. It is best to store the vial in the refrigerator. (B) The pathway that remdesivir travels intracellularly to activate as GS-441524.

At present, Australia and the United Kingdom are the only countries where remdesivir is readily available by prescription for veterinary use. However, veterinarians in India, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of Europe have also started using human medicine suppliers to access the medicine.

Diagnosis

Figure 2: Amazingly comprehensive and practical overview of FIP diagnostics by Severine Tasker.

A complete differential diagnosis of FIP is beyond the scope of this article, but readers are strongly encouraged to read the excellent article by Séverine Tasker in the Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery. 6

Although FIP can occur in cats of any age, most cases occur in kittens and cats less than 3 years of age. Persistent and often high fever that does not respond to antibiotic therapy (and often NSAIDs) is a common finding, as is increased plasma total protein levels due to elevated globulin concentrations (diffuse gammopathy in serum electrophoresis). In effusive or "wet" FIP, the albumin to globulin ratio may drop to <0.45. Acute phase reactants such as serum amyloid A and α1-acid glycoprotein tend to be markedly elevated. Many cats with FIP also exhibit secondary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, increased AST and ALT activities, and jaundice.

Diagnostic imaging is crucial for early diagnosis, which has been greatly facilitated by the introduction of digital radiology and the widespread availability of diagnostic ultrasound in small animal practice. Pleural effusion is readily recognizable from chest X-rays, while abdominal effusion is best detected by ultrasound (Figure 3), especially if high frequency probes are available. It is worth noting that in some cases, the fluid pockets may be focal and localized. Often there is some fluid around the kidney under the kidney sheath, kittens may have scrotal edema, while in rare cases the discharge is limited to the pericardial sac. But the key is - to look for (i) effusion in any body cavity, (ii) granulomas in the kidneys, liver or lungs, (iii) enlarged intra-abdominal and mesenteric lymph nodes (Figure 5) or marked thickening of the iliac-ecological area (f focal FIP ’) ( Figure 5). Chest X-rays after drainage of pleural effusion may show changes corresponding to viral pneumonia.

Figure 2: (A) Ultrasound of the abdomen showing abundant highly echogenic fluid (fibrin fibers) in cats with high protein ascites due to effusive FIP. (B) The fusion contains a viscous yellow to straw-colored liquid. (C) An X-ray of the abdomen with the appearance of cut glass indicating fluid in the abdomen.

If you see an effusion - puncture - because fluid is the best diagnostic sample.

Figure 3: Marked mesenteric lymphadenomegaly in a cat with dry FIP.

A fluid with a high protein content, often yellow to straw in color, is characteristic (Figure 3B). If you see granuloma in the organ or if the lymph nodes are clearly enlarged - do FNA (thin needle aspiration biopsy), apply a smear, use RapidDiff staining and look for neutrophils and macrophages (pyogranulomatous inflammation) without visible infectious agents (Figure 4). The two diseases most commonly confused with FIP in adult cats are lymphoma and some types of lymphocytic cholangitis (associated with high protein ascites).

Figure 4: RapidDiff stained aspirate with a thin needle from the mesenteric lymph nodes of a 4-year-old oriental cat with dry FIP. Distinctive macrophages are the key to cytological diagnosis. Photo courtesy of Trish Martin.

Of course, effusive disease is much easier to diagnose because ascitic, pericardial or pleural fluid provides a suitable sample that can be examined cytologically, by fluid analysis and immunofluorescence (IFA) for FIP antigen, or reverse transcriptase PCR to detect FIP nucleic acid. IFA is performed at VPDS, B14, University of Sydney (via Vetnostics, QML, ASAP, VetPath, Gribbles or IDEXX). However, it is usually the cheapest way to send the sample directly to the university laboratory.

Dry FIP is more problematic because it usually requires a thin-needle aspiration biopsy of pyogranulomatous lesions in the liver, kidneys, or abdominal lymph nodes. Occasionally, cases of wet FIP may show fluid samples that are negative for IFA and / or PCR testing, but the patient is still likely to have FIP, which is reflected in a favorable response to remdesivir or GS-441524 treatment.

Treatment

Since October 2020, we have been treating cats with FIP with remdesivir (IV and SCI) and more recently with GS-441524 (oral), so our protocols are constantly evolving with experience. About 500 cats have been treated so far. We try to avoid being too prescriptive in our recommendations, as we suspect that there is no one-size-fits-all protocol and that each case presents unique circumstances, including patient size, whether the cat is still "happy" and reasonably , or is depressed and dehydrated. An important factor is the emotional and financial commitment of the owner. A key feature that needs to be mentioned is that both drugs are very safe, even in sick cats and kittens.

Note that the following recommended doses are higher than those originally recommended a year ago. Although lower doses worked in many patients, we found that this was often the wrong economic consideration, as disease recurrence at the end of treatment and the development of viral resistance during treatment appear to be related to insufficient initial dosing. So we have learned to be more aggressive from the beginning, which is cheaper in the long run (ie 2nd therapy is not required)

Our greatest experience is with remdesivir. This drug is expensive and the owner has to commit to a costly treatment process that takes 3 months. For most clients, this represents an emotional and financial burden. My view is that in many cases it is better to spend money on antiviral therapy as such than on extensive diagnostics and monitoring.

Figure 5: Significant thickening of the ilico-ecological area of the Devon Rex cat with the so-called "focal FIP", a common form of non-fusive FIP. Photo courtesy of Penny Tisdall.

One of the approaches in newly diagnosed cats with severe disease is hospitalization of cats during the first 3-4 days of treatment. Patients begin treatment with remdesivir when receiving IV fluid therapy (typically 2-4 ml / kg / hr; first day Hartmann's solution or Plasmalyte followed by 0.45 % NaCl and 2.5 % dextrose containing 20 mmol KCl / l). On the 1st day of hospitalization, remdesivir is administered in a high dose intravenously (10-15 mg / kg diluted in 10 ml with saline and is given SLOWLY for 20-30 minutes or longer, manually or by infusion pump; in human patients, administration lasts 2 hours. ) to achieve an increased starting dose of drug distribution volume. This achieves fast antiviral efficacy. In cases with CNS disease, we recommend a daily IV dose of 20 mg / kg. Many cats may appear slightly depressed several hours after IV remdesivir infusion. In human patients, remdesivir may cause infusion-related reactions, including low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating or chills, but we have not observed these events in our feline patients.

The advantage of starting treatment intravenously is that dehydration, if present, is corrected and you have IV access if you need to take other medicines (eg anticonvulsants, corticosteroids). Importantly, once an IV catheter is inserted, daily injections of remdesivir do not cause any pain or discomfort. However, if the cat eats and is diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, then IV therapy is not required and the same doses can be given subcutaneously, saving a lot of money.

FIP cats treated with remdesivir typically improve significantly during the first 2-3 days. However, we found that cases of effusion, and especially those that resulted in pleural effusion prior to treatment, should be closely monitored, as the combination of the antiviral effect of remdesivir and a higher than maintenance dose of crystalloids may lead to transient worsening of pleural effusion. This requires drainage twice a day using a 19G butterfly needle (1.1 mm - cream color) and a 3-way stopcock (ideally using an ultrasonic guide to find the best place to insert the needle). These "secondary" pleural effusions can be fatal if not detected in time and appear to occur in approximately 1 in 10 cases of effusive FIPs treated with remdesivir.

Another problem that occasionally occurs at this time is the development of neurological symptoms, including seizures. Our view is that this is not the effect of the drug as such, but rather the unmasking of the subclinical CNS FIP. Such cats require careful monitoring, while the development of seizures requires the use of anticonvulsant drugs such as midazolam (0.3 mg / kg IV), alfaxane or propofol (administered IV to be effective), followed by levetiracetam (Keppra) (10- 20 mg / kg, PO every 8 hours). Phenobarbitone is a reliable anticonvulsant, but it tends to increase the metabolism of many drugs, and levetiracetam is probably safer until we better understand the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of remdesivir and GS-441524. Some doctors also administer dexamethasone or prednisolone as a single treatment to relieve CNS inflammation.

Although advocating initial IV therapy for the most severe cases of FIP, cats and kittens that are still "happy" and eating do not require IV therapy at first and may instead begin subcutaneous injections at 10-12 mg / kg / day (20 mg / kg in CNS diseases). This is, of course, much cheaper because cats or kittens do not have to be placed in an infusion pump and hospitalized in a stressful environment. For clients who have financial limits, this may be a more appropriate way to start therapy. Some skilled colleagues, such as Jim Euclid, have developed a hybrid approach where kittens receive subcutaneous fluids daily as a bolus with injected remdesivir.

The cats were then given continuous subcutaneous injections of remdesivir. It originally took 84 days, and such cases accounted for most of the cases we have dealt with so far. Recently, we have been using aggressive IV / SCI remdesivir for initial therapy, and then cats are switching to oral GS-441524 for 10 weeks of consolidation therapy.

After the initial use of lower doses, which were not successful in every patient, we now use the following treatment protocols:

  • for cats with wet FIP: 10-12 mg / kg once daily (SID) for 2 weeks
  • for cats with severe eye impairment: 15 mg / kg SID by subcutaneous injection (SCI) for 2 weeks; Cats with severe uveitis should also be given topical corticosteroids (Before Forte or Maxidex) for 2-3 days (no longer!) and atropine eye ointment.
  • for cats with neurological FIP with CNS symptoms: administer 20 mg / kg SID SCI for 2-4 weeks. 5

It is important that owners are properly instructed on how to optimally administer daily injections. Cats will perceive the injection as less painful if the remdesivir solution in the syringe is allowed to warm to room temperature instead of being refrigerated. In addition, if you teach them simple tasks such as using a new needle when injecting (ie use a needle other than the one used to draw the medicine from the vial) and using 21G (0.8mm - green) or 23G diameter needles (0.6mm - blue), injections will be more tolerable. Although 21G needles are larger, some cats may have the advantage of injecting faster. Alternatively, for simplicity, veterinarians can prepare injections for the whole week, which they will keep in the refrigerator, and will give a new injection every day.

For cats that continue to perceive SC injections as painful, we used gabapentin orally (50 to 100 mg per cat) and / or transmucosally or SC administered buprenorphine 30-60 minutes before sedation / analgesia injection. The area to be injected can also be trimmed so that a topical EMLA cream can be applied 30 minutes before the injection. BOVA produces a faster-acting local anesthetic gel that may be useful in some patients. In exceptional cases, we inserted a cephalic catheter every 4-5 days so that owners could administer IV therapy instead of SC injections. Injection site reactions reported with GS-441524 injected abroad do not appear to occur with remdesivir.

After 2-4 weeks of taking remdesivir and after the abdominal fluid has disappeared and the ocular and CNS symptoms have improved or disappeared, we are now proposing a switch to GS-441524 tablets. This is done for 3 reasons: (i) it reduces costs (ii) eliminates the pain problem of SC injections (iii) in some patients it is more effective. Remdesivir injections are probably more reliable than oral GS-441524, and in the worst cases, you might choose to give them for 4 weeks, but for most cats, 2 weeks and comfort and lower oral formulation costs outperform everything else.

The use of GS-441524 tablets is relatively new in Australia, but is widely used overseas. The recommended oral dose of GS441524 is usually the same as the SCI / IV remdesivir dose: wet cases of FIP receive 10-12 mg / kg PO SID, ocular cases 15 mg / kg PO SID and CNS cases 20 mg / kg (or higher). GS-441524 is more economical and even safer than remdesivir. In CNS cases where high doses are administered, it is probably best to administer 10 mg / kg PO every 12 hours (BID) to circumvent the "ceiling" effect referred to in the limited absorption of high doses.

Figure 6. Focal dry FIP with pyogranulomatous inflammation of intra-abdominal lymph nodes. Instead of exploratory laparotomy, lymph node biopsy, histology, and immunohistology, 3 days of remdesivir IV treatment may be more cost-effective if FIP is highly suspected. Enlarged lymph node FNA is probably an ideal diagnostic option for physicians with this set of skills.

Why are the dosages about the same? At mg / kg, GS441524 has twice as many active molecules as remdesivir (due to the difference in their molecular weight), but the bioavailability of GS-441524 is only 50 % (only half of what is given is absorbed, and this is affected by feeding and also the effect of the ceiling dose) - so these two factors cancel each other out.

We recommend that GS-441524 tablets be given with a small treat to mask the tablet, with the main meal being served 1 hour later. The tablets provided by BOVA are 50 mg tuna-flavored tablets, with four score lines, so they can be divided into halves or even quarters.

In situations where owners cannot afford full treatment, we use mefloquine (Lariam; 5 mg / kg orally once daily in capsules or 62.5 mg twice a week) after initial treatment with remdesivir / GS-441524.

Phillip McDonagh, Jacqui Norris, Merran Govendir and colleagues at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science have shown that mefloquine has an antiviral effect. 7 This is probably due to the fact that mefloquine usurps the biochemical intracellular pathways used by the FIP virus, a mechanism that has recently been demonstrated with clofazimine. 8 (anti-leprosy medicine), and several other medicines. In several cats, where owners could not afford a complete treatment with remdesivir, mefloquine proved to be effective in reaching the limit of clinical cure.

The main advantage of buying remdesivir and GS-441524 from BOVA for the treatment of FIP cases is that the products we use are subject to quality control. It's just a prescription with the client's name and address, the patient's name and the dose to be given, and the compounder can usually deliver the vials or tablets to any veterinarian in Australia within 24-48 hours.

At present, the price is 100 mg of vials of remdesivir 250$ plus GST and postage (the total price is usually about 280$). GS-441524 is sold in packs of 10 tablets for 600$ plus shipping and handling. By purchasing more vials and tablets at the same time, of course, postage and handling fees will be reduced. We believe that most owners will feel much more comfortable getting a product from a well-known Australian company than sending money overseas and hoping that drugs of unknown quality on the black market will reach Australia safely without being detained by customs.

There is no reason why a well-motivated veterinarian would not be able to handle these cases in his own practice. This is often more convenient for the owner, especially if they struggle with daily injections and need a practice near them.

Figure 7: Gs-441524 tablets from BOVA Australia. They are tuna flavored. They can be divided into halves or even quarters. MUCH EASIER than injections for most cats. Less stress and less cost.

Veterinarians who wish to explore this option or have general questions about FIP case management may email Sally Coggins (dr.sallyc@gmail.com), Richard Malik (richard.malik@sydney.edu.au), David Hughes (concordvets@concordvets.com.au), Grette Howard (drgretta@gmail.com) or Professor Jacqui Norris (jacqui.norris@sydney.edu.au), for advice on diagnosis or treatment. Many Australian veterinarians interested in FIP have gained considerable expertise in the management of these cases. For example, Andrew Spanner in Adelaide treated more than 20 cases with excellent results. Thus, there are already many feline medicine physicians and internal medicine specialists with experience in the treatment of FIP, and so veterinarians who are hesitant to treat their own cases have the opportunity to recommend these specialists to their clients.

Physicians who accept FIP cases from GPs include: QLD Rhett Marshall, Marcus Gunew, Alison Jukes, Rachel Korman; NSW Katherine Briscoe, Michael Linton, Randolph Baral, Melissa Catt; VIC - Carolyn O'Brien, Keshuan Chow, Amy Lingard; WA-Martine Van Boeijen and Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital; TAS Moira van Dorsselaer.

All of these doctors (and probably even more we don't know about) are happy to accept cases for diagnosis and therapy. Everyone is probably happy to discuss case management with you.

Figure 8: Bengal kitten with CNS and ocular FIP (A: before) and (B: after) after Remdesivira. This cat also had pulmonary granulomas.

Sally Coggins, working with Lara Boland, Emily Pritchard, Associate Professor Mary Thompson and Professor Jacqui Norris at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, is interested in treating cases with comprehensive diagnosis and free monitoring. It will be part of Sally's doctoral program, so you will help her advance in her studies by sending her cases. We hope that through these studies, we will get a better idea of how quickly cats respond and when exactly treatment can be safely stopped. Owners will only have to pay for remdesivir and GS-441524 for therapy. This group is also interested in treating cases with interferon-omega and mefloquine.

In most cases, FIP is doing very well with GS-441524 or remdesivir. Niels Pedersen has gathered an amazing resource for veterinarians interested in FIP case management - https://sockfip.org/dr - pedersen - research / . The site also provides some recommendations on how to monitor cats during treatment. I'm not very protocol-oriented, so the key things for me to keep track of are appetite, attitude, activity levels, and changes in body weight and fitness over time. Most physicians like to monitor serum hematology and biochemistry every month to ensure that all measurable abnormalities improve, although this can be stressful for the patient and increase treatment costs. The trade-off is taking a few drops of blood to monitor PCV, total plasma protein (TPP) using refractometry, and plasma color to determine if anemia is improving, jaundice is subsiding, and gamma globulin levels are lowering, resulting in lower TPP.

Do not worry about transient increases in globulin levels at the start of treatment; when high protein effusions are absorbed, a lot of immunoglobulins enter the patient's plasma. This phenomenon may be common until the 8th week of treatment, but disappears by the 12th week.

Figure 9: Transverse plane MRI image in contrast to T1 weighting. Note: dilatation of the lateral ventricles with very slight emphasis on the ependymal lining (orange arrows). Image courtesy of Christine Thomas.

And what about a kitten with multifocal CNS disease, where FIP CNS is the most likely cause of clinical symptoms? The traditional approach is serology (to rule out cryptococcosis and toxoplasmosis), a good history and thiamine test to rule out vitamin B1 deficiency, followed by MRI scans (Figure 9) and CSF collection for fluid analysis and multiplex neuro-qPCR analysis). This approach is very expensive and there is also a certain risk of anesthesia and especially CSF collection. We found that a 3-5 day intravenous or sc. Remdesivir therapy can be used as a therapeutic test in cats with probable CNS FIP and is a cost-effective alternative to complete diagnostic processing, which can cost 3-5000$ or more.

Similarly, if exploratory laparotomy, abnormal tissue biopsy, histology, and immunohistochemistry for FIP antigen are used to diagnose dry intra-abdominal FIP versus 3-5 days of treatment with remdesivir or GS-441524, a drug test may be considered, which is a better choice from in terms of patient well-being and reduced costs. Most cats with non-fusive FIP experience rapid improvement with antiviral therapy, with normalized fever, improved appetite, and better overall attitude within 2 to 3 days. If the patient does not respond to antiviral therapy, then exploratory laparotomy and representative organ biopsy are reasonable, as the main differential diagnoses are lymphoma and lymphocytic cholangitis.

This is a matter of personal approach for each doctor. FNA for cytological and sometimes immunohistochemical examination or PCR is a convincing non-invasive option where this expertise is available, but sometimes it does not give a definitive answer. Some veterinarians insist on tissue diagnosis and positive immunohistology or PCR in each patient, while others would like to "treat treatable" with a 3-5-day remdesivir / GS-441524 application and proceed to exploratory laparotomy only when there is no clear response to therapy.

It is incredibly satisfying to see the transformation of cats and kittens, which are not well, into normal and happy cats. It's really something that will lift your spirits as a doctor. It's good science and good veterinary medicine!

Conclusions

In the past, the diagnosis of FIP was an intellectual exercise so that we could end the suffering of a cat or kitten with the certainty of an accurate diagnosis. Now, thanks to FIP's lifelong study, Dr. Niels Pedersen, we are able to successfully treat perhaps 80 % or more cats with FIP if the client has sufficient funds. It is too early to predict whether or how many will be repeated later.

There is a need for intensive study in diagnosis and case management, but with the necessary effort, a good veterinarian should be able to work with a determined owner to achieve a clinical cure. The most important thing is not to put too many obstacles in the way of the dedicated owner and support him during the 12-week marathon treatment course by helping him find the best way to treat his patient. This may include sedative / analgesic treatment to help the cat improve controllability and prevent discomfort when the client brings their cat to the clinic daily for remdesivir injections or switching to GS-441524 tablets when the stress from the injections is too great for the owner. It is important to go a long way and a payment plan can be provided that will allow determined clients to improve the affordability of treatment.

Finally, the impact of COVID-19 on coronavirus research has been indeed profound, and several very promising drugs are under development, such as molnupiravir from Merck and another oral drug from Pfizer.

OVERALL SUMMARY

2-step approach to therapy

Phase 1 - INDUCTION

IV / SC injections of Remdesivir

  • For cats with wet FIP: 10-12 mg / kg remdesivir by subcutaneous injection (SCI) once daily (SID) for 2 weeks
  • For cats with eye: 15 mg / kg SID remdesivir SCI for 2 weeks
  • For cats with neurological symptoms of FIP and CNS: remdesivir 20 mg / kg SID for 2 weeks

Phase 2 - CONSOLIDATION

Switch to GS-441524 tablets after 2 weeks of remdesivir injection

  • For cats with wet FIP: 10-12 mg / kg GS-441524 oral SID for 10 weeks
  • For cats with eye impairment: 15 mg / kg SID GS-441524 oral SID for 10 weeks
  • For cats with neurological symptoms of FIP and CNS: GS-441524 10 mg / kg oral BID (20 mg / kg / day) for 10 weeks

References

  1. Kim, Y .; Liu, H .; Galasiti Kankanamalage, AC; Weerasekara, S .; Hua, DH; Groutas, WC; Chang, KO; Pedersen, NC Reversal of the progression of fatal coronavirus infection in cats by a broad-spectrum coronavirus protease inhibitor. PLoS Pathog. 2016, 12, e1005531.
  2. Pedersen, NC; Kim, Y .; Liu, H .; Galasiti Kankanamalage, AC; Eckstrand, C .; Groutas, WC; Bannasch, M .; Meadows, JM; Chang, KO Efficacy of a 3C-like protease inhibitor in treating various forms of acquired feline infectious peritonitis. J. Feline Med. Surg. 2018, 20, 378–392.
  3. Murphy, BG; Perron, M .; Murakami, E .; Bauer, K .; Park, Y .; Eckstrand, C .; Liepnieks, M .; Pedersen, NC The nucleoside analog GS-441524 strongly inhibits feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus in tissue culture and experimental cat infection studies. Vet. Microbiol. 2018, 219, 226–233.
  4. Pedersen, NC; Perron, M .; Bannasch, M .; Montgomery, E .; Murakami,
    E .; Liepnieks, M .; Liu, H. Efficacy, and safety of the nucleoside analog GS441524 for treatment of cats with naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis. J. Feline Med. Surg. 2019, 21, 271–281.
  5. Dickinson PJ, Bannasch M, Thomasy SM, et al. Antiviral treatment using the adenosine nucleoside analogue GS-441524 in cats with clinically diagnosed neurological feline infectious peritonitis. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2020. doi: 10.1111 / jvim.15780.
  6. Tasker S. Diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis: Update on evidence supporting available tests. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
    2018; 20 (3): 228-243. doi: 10.1177 / 1098612X18758592
  7. McDonagh, P .; Sheehy, PA; Norris, JM Identification, and characterization of small molecule inhibitors of feline coronavirus replication. Vet. Microbiol. 2014, 174, 438–447.
  8. Yuan, S., Yin, X., Meng, X. et al. Clofazimine broadly inhibits coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2. Nature (2021).
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03431-4
  9. https://sockfip.org/ - THE BEST resource on the internet or anywhere for FIP.
Figure 10: Two cats with dry FIP after successful therapy. As an avid young veterinarian wrote to me not so long ago - "that's why I did science!"

COSTS:

2 kg kitten with wet FIP
4 × 100 mg remdesivir vials - 1000$
35 × 50 mg tablets GS-441524 - 2100$
Manipulation and GST - 30$ plus 310$ = 340$
A total of 3440$, approximately 290$ per week for 12 weeks

4 kg cat with dry FIP
7 × 100 mg remdesivir vials - 1750$
70 × 50 mg tablets GS-441524 - 4200$
Handling and GST 30$ plus 600$
A total of 6550$, about 545$ per week for 12 weeks

Figure 11: Two siblings who developed FIP and were successfully treated with remdesivir and GS441524.
Read "FIP treatment with subcutaneous remdesivir followed by oral tablets GS-441524"

The long history of Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine and its modern application to treatment of Covid-19 in people and FIP in cats.

Niels C. Pedersen DVM, PhD
Original article: The long history of Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine and its modern application to treatment of Covid-19 in people and FIP in cats.

Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine is a small molecule (nucleoside) that was studied in the late 1970s in the former Soviet Union as part of biological weapons research [2]. The weaponization of diseases such as smallpox was a worldwide threat, but the danger of using the smallpox virus for this purpose was too great. Smallpox was eradicated from the world, virtually all stocks were destroyed and further research was banned. This led the US and the Soviet Union to research other RNA viruses as biological weapons and antivirals to defend against them. The Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus (VEEV) was one of the first viruses to be seriously considered for use as a biological weapon. [3]. VEEV is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites and causes high fever, headaches and encephalitis with swelling that can be fatal. Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine has been found to inhibit not only VEEV replication but also a wide range of alphaviruses, including Ebola, chikungunya, influenza virus, norovirus, bovine diarrhea virus, hepatitis C virus and respiratory syncytial virus. [3-8]. The first reports of an inhibitory effect of beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine on human coronavirus NL63 date back to 2006 [9]. Recent studies have confirmed its inhibitory effect on a wide range of human and animal coronaviruses [8].

An important part of the recent history of beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine is associated with the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD) [1], where he received the experimental designation EIDD-1931. The US government has provided significant financial support for the study of antivirals against alphaviruses in institutions such as Emory since 2004. [10]. In 2014, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency provided institutional support to find an antiviral compound against VEEV and other alpha-coronaviruses. "N4-Hydroxycytidine and its derivatives and antiviral uses" were included in U.S. Patent Application 2016/106050 A1 of 2016 [11]. Additional funding in 2019 was provided by the National Institute of Allergies and Infections for fellowship of the esterified beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine precursor (EIDD-2801) for the treatment of influenza. [10]. The stated purpose of the chemical changes of EIDD-2801 was to increase its oral bioavailability, which would ultimately allow beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine to be administered as pills and not as injections. In 2019/2020, the focus of research changed from influenza to SARS-CoV-2 [2]. The commercialization of EIDD-2801 was entrusted to Emory's Ridgeway Biotherapeutics subsidiary, which subsequently worked with Merck on a lengthy and costly FDA approval process. The current version of EIDD-2081 for field testing was named Molnupiravir.

Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine, the active substance in Molnupiravir, exists in two forms as tautomers. In one form, it acts as a cytidine with a single bond between the carbon and the N-OH group. In its other form, which mimics uridine, it has an oxime with a double bond between the carbon and the N-OH group. In the presence of beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine, viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase reads it as uridine instead of cytidine and inserts adenosine instead of guanosine. Switching between forms causes inconsistencies during transcription, which results in numerous mutations in the viral genome and a cessation of viral replication. [8].

Merck's commitment to conditional and full FDA approval of Molnuparivir continues. In its statement, Merck stated: [12] "In anticipation of the results of the MOVe-OUT program, Merck manufactures Molnupiravir at its own risk. Merck expects to produce 10 million therapeutic doses by the end of 2021, with more expected to be produced in 2022. Merck is committed to providing timely access to Molnupiravir worldwide, if authorized or approved, and plans to introduce access to tiered prices based on World Bank admission criteria that reflect countries' relative ability to fund their pandemic health response. As part of its commitment to extend the global approach, Merck has previously announced that it has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for Molnupiravir with established generic manufacturers to accelerate the availability of Molnupiravir in more than 100 low and middle income countries (LMICs) following approval or emergency approval by local regulatory agencies. . " This "generosity" is unlikely to apply to use in animals.

Drugs to inhibit the current Covid-19 pandemic have been the subject of accelerated field trials in the last two years, and one of them, Remdesivir, has been approved for use in hospitalized patients in record time. Last year, Molnupiravir was submitted for conditional approval as an oral medicinal product for home treatment of the infection at an early stage. [12]. However, anti-coronavirus compounds have been developed previously for another common and serious feline disease, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). These drugs include a protease inhibitor (GC376) [13] and an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor (GS-441524), which is an active ingredient of Remdesivir [14]. The success of antiviral drugs in the treatment of FIP prompted a recent study by EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 for their ability to inhibit FIPV in tissue cultures. [15]. The effective EC50 concentrations for EIDD-1931 against FIPV are 0.09 μM, EIDD-2801 0.4 μM and GS441524 0.66 μM [15]. The percentage of cytotoxicity at 100 μM is 2.8, 3.8 and 0, respectively. Therefore, EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 are slightly more effective at inhibiting viruses, but also more cytotoxic than GS-441524. These laboratory studies suggest that EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 are excellent candidates for the treatment of FIP.

Although EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 are a great promise for the treatment of FIP, there are several obstacles that will make the legal use of these compounds unlikely in the near future. GS-441524, the active form of Remdesivir and patented by Gilead Sciences, was investigated for use in cats with FIP shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic. FIP research [14] therefore stimulated the potential use of Remdesivir against Ebola and not SARS-like coronavirus [14]. Although these studies were conducted in collaboration with scientists from Gilead Sciences, the company refused to grant GS-441524 rights to treatment in animals as soon as it became clear that there was a much larger market for Covid-19 in humans. [16]. Similarly, my attempts over the past 2-3 years at Emory, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Merck Veterinary Division to investigate EIDD-1931 and EIDD2801 for the treatment of FIP in cats have either remained unanswered or rejected, no doubt for similar reasons why Gilead refused to grant rights for GS-441524. However, the great worldwide need for FIP treatment quickly supported the unapproved market for GS-441524 from China. The same need to treat FIP has recently aroused interest in Molnupiravir, also from China.

Situation with EIDD-1931 vs. EIDD-2801 / Molnupiravir and GS-441524 vs. Remdesivir raises the question of why some medicines are being converted to prodrugs for marketing purposes [17]. Remdesivir was reportedly esterified to increase antiviral activity, although studies in cats showed that GS-441524 and Remdesivir had similar viral inhibitory activity in tissue culture. [18]. However, Remdesivir was found to be poorly absorbed by the oral route and was therefore conditionally approved for injectable use only. EIDD-2801 was designed to increase the oral absorption of EIDD-1931, although previous research has shown that EIDD-1931 is well absorbed orally without esterification. [6]. The motives for the commercialization of Remdesivir instead of GS-441524 for human use have been scientifically questioned, as it appears to be better in several ways without further modification. [17]. Why EIDD-2801 was chosen for commercialization, when EIDD-1931 would be cheaper, 4 times more effective against viruses and one third less toxic than EIDD-2801 [15]? The strength of patent rights and the longevity of patents may be more important factors in these decisions. [16,17,19].

One of the problems in the treatment of FIP in cats is the blood-eye and blood-brain barriers, which become very important when the disease affects the eyes and / or the brain. [13, 14, 20]. This problem has been largely overcome in the treatment of ocular and neurological forms of FIP with GS-441524 by gradually increasing the dose to increase blood levels and thus drug concentrations in the ventricular fluid and / or brain. [20]. GC376, one of the most effective antivirals against FIP virus in culture [17], is not effective against ocular and neurological FIP due to the inability to get enough drug to these sites, even if the dose is increased several times[14]. Fortunately, it appears that EIDD-1931 can reach effective levels in the brain, as indicated by studies in horses with VEEV infection. [3]. Drug resistance is another problem that now occurs in some cats treated with GS-441524, especially in individuals with the neurological form of FIP. Long treatment procedures and difficulties in transporting enough drug to the brain support the development of drug resistance.

The short-term and long-term toxic effects of the drug candidate on the test person or animal are crucial. GS-441524 showed lower toxicity in cell cultures than GC376, EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 [15]. Most important, however, is the toxicity that manifests itself in vivo. GC376 is one of the drugs with the highest coronavirus inhibitory effect [15], but slows the development of adult teeth when given to young kittens [13]. No serious toxicity was observed during nearly three years of field use of GS-441524, reflecting the complete absence of cytotoxic effects in vitro at concentrations up to 400 µM. [18]. However, EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801 show significant cytotoxicity at 100 μM [15]. Therefore, the ability of EIDD-1931 to make fatal mutations in RNA has been raising a number of questions for some time. [8, 21, 22]. This was the main reason why the application for the treatment of diseases was still delayed. However, the current recommended duration of treatment with Covid-19 Molnupiravir is only 5 days at the initial stage of treatment. [10]. However, the recommended duration of FIP treatment with GS-441524 is 12 weeks [14], which represents a much longer time for the manifestation of toxicity. Therefore, close observation of cats during treatment with EIDD-1931 or EIDD-2801, whether short-term or long-term, will be important.

All existing antiviral drugs have led to the development of drug resistance through mutations in the viral genome. Although Remdesivir appears to be less susceptible to such mutations compared to drugs used in viral diseases such as HIV / AIDS, resistance is well documented. [23-25]. Resistance to GS-441524 in cats treated for FIP was observed at a higher frequency, especially in cats with neurological FIP, where it is more difficult to deliver sufficient drug to the brain [13, 14, 20]. Resistance to GS-441524 in cats is also likely to be a major problem, as cats with FIP are often treated for 12 weeks or longer, while Remdesivir (and Molnupiravir) are recommended for only five days during the initial viremic stage of Covid-19. [16]. The problem of drug resistance in HIV / AIDS treatment is effectively addressed by using a cocktail of different drugs simultaneously with different resistance profiles. Mutants resistant to one drug will immediately inhibit other drugs, thus preventing their positive selection during treatment. Inhibition of resistance is particularly strong when the two drugs attack different proteins involved in virus replication. For example, GC376 is a protease inhibitor [13], while GS-441524 acts on an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase [18]. However, GC376 is not as well absorbed across the blood-brain barrier. Although the necessary research has not yet been performed, there appears to be no cross-resistance between GS-441524 and Molnupiravir and is as effective as GS-441524 in crossing the blood-brain barrier. [3]. This makes Molnupiravir (or 5-hydroxycytidine) an important contribution to the future treatment of FIP.

As expected, Molnupiravir has recently been tested on cats with FIP by at least one Chinese retailer, GS-441524, and preliminary results are available on the FIP Warriors website. [26]. Field trials included 286 cats with various forms of naturally occurring FIP observed at pet clinics in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Romania, Turkey, and China. The 286 cats that participated in the study, including seven cats with ocular (n = 2) and neurological (n = 5) FIP, did not die. Twenty-eight of these cats were cured after 4-6 weeks of treatment and 258 after 8 weeks. All treated cats were healthy after 3-5 months, a period during which relapses would be expected to relapse unsuccessfully. These data provide convincing evidence of the safety and efficacy of Molnupiravir in cats with various forms of FIP. However, we hope that this field study will be written in manuscript form, submitted for review and published. Either way, Molnupiravir is already marketed to owners of cats with FIP. At least one other major retailer of GS-441524 is also interested in using Molnupiravir for FIP, indicating a demand for additional antiviral drugs for cats with FIP.

Safe and effective dosing for Molnupiravir in cats with FIP has not been published. However, at least one vendor from China provided certain pharmacokinetic and field test data for Molnuparivir in cats with naturally occurring FIP in a leaflet for the product Hero-2081. [26]. However, this information does not clearly indicate the amount of Molnupiravir in one of their "50 mg tablets" and the actual dosing interval (q12h or q24h?). Fortunately, the estimated starting dose of molnupiravir for cats with FIP can be obtained from published in vitro cell culture studies of EIDD-1931 and EIDD-2801. [15] and laboratory and field studies GS-441524 [14,18]. Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801) has an EC50 of 0.4 μM / μl against FIPV in cell culture, while the EC50 of GS-441524 is about 1.0 μM / μl. [18]. Both have a similar oral absorption of about 40-50 %, so the effective subcutaneous (SC) dose for Molnupiravir would be approximately half the recommended 4 mg / kg SC every 24 hours of the initial dose for GS441524. [14] or 2 mg / kg SC q24h. The per-os (PO) dose would be doubled to account for less effective oral absorption at a dose of 4 mg / kg PO every 24 hours. The estimated initial oral dose of molnupiravir for cats with FIP can also be calculated from the available Covid-19 treatment data. Patients treated for Covid-19 are given 200 mg of molnupiravir PO q12h for 5 days. This dose was evidently calculated from a pharmacokinetic study performed in humans, and if the average person weighs 60-80 kg (70 kg), the effective inhibitory dose is 3,03.0 mg / kg PO q12h. The cat has a basal metabolic ratio 1.5 times higher than humans, and assuming the same oral absorption in both humans and cats, the minimum dose for cats according to this calculation would be 4.5 mg / kg PO every 12 hours. Assuming that molnupiravir crosses the blood-brain barrier and the blood-brain barrier as efficiently as GS-441524 [3,18], the dose would be increased ~ 1.5 and ~ 2.0-fold to allow adequate penetration into the aqueous humor and cerebrospinal fluid for cats with ocular (~ 8 mg / kg PO, q12 h) or neurological FIP (~ 10 mg / kg PO, q12h). The treatment will last 10-12 weeks and the monitoring of the response to treatment will be identical to GS-441524 [14, 20]. These recommendations are based on published data assumptions and further experience with Molnupiravir will be required in this area. Molnupiravir is unlikely to be safer and more effective than GS-441524 in the treatment of FIP, but a third antiviral drug may be particularly useful in preventing resistance to GS-441524 (as a cocktail of antivirals with different resistance profiles) or in treating cats that no longer respond. good on GS-441524. It is largely unknown whether Molnupiravir will be without long-term toxic effects, as the active substance N4-hydroxycytidine is an extremely potent mutagen. [21] and the duration of FIP treatment is much longer than with Covid-19 and there is a likelihood of major side effects.

It is a pity that EIDD-1931 (N4-hydroxycytidine), the active substance in Molnupiravir, has not received much attention in the treatment of FIP cats than Molnupiravir. EIDD-1931 has a 4-fold greater inhibitory effect against the virus than Molnupiravir (EC50 0.09 vs. 0.4 μM) and the percentage of cytotoxicity is slightly lower (2.3% vs. 3.8% at 100 μM) [15]. N4-hydroxycytidine is also efficiently absorbed orally [3], which was downplayed in the development of EIDD-2801 (Molnupiravir). This scenario is identical to the GS-441524 vs. Remdesivir, the second of which, Remdesivir, was chosen for commercialization, although current research suggests that GS-441524 would be the best candidate.[17].

References

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  26. FIP Warriors CZ / SK - EIDD-2801 (Molnupiravir) https://www.fipwarriors.eu/en/eidd-2801-molnupiravir/
Read "A long history of Beta-d-N4-hydroxycytidine and its modern application for the treatment of Covid-19 in humans and FIP in cats."

SUMMARY OF FIP TREATMENT USING GS-441524 (Dr. Pedersen)

Original article: SUMMARY OF GS-441524 TREATMENT FOR FIP
Niels C. Pedersen, DVM PhD, Professor Emeritus,
Pet Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis

We use the same criteria to monitor treatment as described in clinical study published in JFMS (Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery). Owners should monitor temperature, weight, activity, appetite, and clinical signs of the original disease at daily or weekly intervals. Blood tests - hematology and biochemistry (including serum protein values - total protein, albumin, globulin, A: G ratio) at the beginning of treatment and then every 4 weeks. It is always useful to update these values along with the weight in the form of a graph. The aim is to have a healthy, sensitive and active cat at the end of 12 weeks of treatment and with normal blood test values, especially in terms of hematocrit, total protein, globulin, albumin and A: G ratios. Significant weight gain is also a good sign, and some young or particularly emaciated cats can more than double their weight during treatment. This is, of course, an idealized treatment, and it should be appreciated that upward adjustments may be required if the response is slow or if complications such as ocular or neurological impairment occur during treatment.

Supportive (symptomatic) care may be required to stabilize cats that are critically ill at the time of diagnosis or during the first days of treatment with GS-441524 (GS). Abdominal effusion should not be aspirated unless it compresses the chest and interferes with respiration, as it is quickly replaced at the expense of the rest of the body. However, thoracic effusions are usually associated with varying degrees of dyspnoea and should be eliminated. Chest effusions return much more slowly. Symptomatic care also often includes fluids and electrolytes to suppress dehydration, antibiotics suspected of secondary bacterial infection and anti-inflammatory drugs (usually systemic corticosteroids), and rarely blood transfusions. Some cats with eye problems may also need topical medications to suppress severe inflammation and increased intraocular pressure (glaucoma).

Corticosteroids such as prednisolone should only be used during the first days of GS treatment and should be discontinued when there is a rapid improvement in health. Long-term use of corticosteroids with GS is strongly discouraged as it may mask the signs of improvement caused by GS, especially in cats with neurological FIP, has no therapeutic power and may interfere with the development of a protective immune response to FIP. It is possible that this immune response plays a major role in the final cure. If cats are on chronic steroid therapy, no dose reduction is required as there is no evidence that cats experience severe adrenal atrophy, which occurs in humans during long-term steroid therapy. Many owners, GS treatment consultants and veterinarians will use various promoted supplements to improve liver, kidney or immune system health, as well as vitamins such as B12. These substances do not have proven effectiveness and I consider them a waste of money.

Treatment with GS, which is the most common, can also be complicated by ulcers / lesions at the injection site. Treatment is difficult for both owners and cats because injections can be painful. In some cats, especially those with neurological impairments, there is a problem with the development of partial drug resistance, which requires an increase in dose. The response to treatment is usually within 24-72 hours and most cats return to normal or approach normal within 2-4 weeks, which is a good sign. We anticipate that the success rate of FIP treatment with GS-441424 is greater than 80%, given treatment failure due to misdiagnosis of FIP, inappropriate dosing, health complications, and drug resistance. Young cats are easier to treat and have a higher cure rate than cats older than 7 years. Cats with wet or dry FIP, with uncomplicated neurological or ocular symptoms, are easier to treat than cats with neurological FIP.

The starting dose for cats with wet or dry FIP without signs of ocular or neurological disease is 4-6 mg / kg daily for 12 weeks, with younger cats and wet FIP tending toward the lower limit and dry cases to the upper limit. Cats with ocular lesions and no neurological symptoms start with a dose of 8 mg / kg daily for 12 weeks. Cats with neurological symptoms start at a daily dose of 10 mg / kg for 12 weeks. If cats with wet or dry FIP initially show ocular or neurological symptoms, they switch to appropriate ocular or neurological doses. There is an oral form of GS available from at least two sources in China (Spark, Mutian), but I do not use it, so I do not know a comparable dosage. However, I do not recommend this if the injection dose rises above 10 mg / kg per day, as the effectiveness of oral absorption decreases at these high doses.

I recommend adjusting the dosage by weekly weight control. The weight gain of many of these cats can be huge, either because they are so skinny at first or they grow, or both. If weight loss occurs at the beginning of treatment, I remain at the original dose and do not reduce it. Failure to gain weight during treatment is considered a bad sign. We do not increase the dose unless there are serious reasons for this, such as worsening or improved blood test results, slow improvement, poor activity, restoration of the original clinical symptoms, or a change in the form of the disease, including ocular or neurological symptoms. This is where common sense comes in, because you don't want to get stuck on one blood level, which is not quite common, but does not affect the overall health of the cat. For example, globulin may still be a little high, but other important blood test values and health are very good. If there is a good reason to increase the dose, it should always be from +2 to +5 mg / kg per day and for at least 4 weeks. If these 4 weeks cause a prolongation of the 12-week duration of treatment, it is because of this dose adjustment. A positive response to any dose increase can be expected, and if you do not see an improvement, it means that the dose is still not high enough, drug resistance is developing, you have a bad GS brand, the cat does not have FIP, or there are other diseases that affect treatment.

One of the most difficult decisions is determining when to stop treatment. Although some cats, often younger with wet FIP, can be cured as early as 8 weeks, and possibly earlier, the usual duration of treatment is 12 weeks. Some cats may even require a dose adjustment and longer treatment periods. Critical blood levels such as hematocrit, total protein, albumin and globulin levels, and total white blood cell and absolute lymphocyte counts usually return to normal in treated cats after 8-10 weeks, when there is often an unexpected increase in activity levels. It is assumed, but there is no evidence yet, that after 8-10 weeks, the cat will develop its own immunity to infection. This is a situation that occurs in the treatment of hepatitis C in humans, which is also a chronic infection caused by the RNA virus, which often requires up to 12 or more weeks of antiviral treatment.

Unfortunately, there is no simple test to determine when a cure has taken place, and the fear of relapse often leads owners, treatment advisers and veterinarians to extend treatment beyond 84 days. Fear of relapses will also make people involved in the decision-making process too cautious about a single blood value that is slightly abnormal (eg, slightly high globulin or slightly low A: G ratio), or final ultrasound results suggesting suspected enlarged lymphatics. nodules, small amounts of fluid in the abdomen, or vague irregularities in organs such as the kidneys, spleen, pancreas, or intestines. It should be borne in mind that although most animals fall within the normal range of blood values, they are otherwise bell-shaped curves, and that there are a few exceptional patients who will have values at the edge of these curves. The ultrasound diagnosis must take into account the degree of pathology that may occur in the abdominal cavity affected by FIP, such as scars or some consequences in the form of organ changes in successfully treated cats. In situations where such questions arise, it is better to look more closely at the overall picture, and not just at one small part. The most important outcome of treatment is a return to normal health, which has two components - external health symptoms and internal health symptoms. External signs of health include a return to normal activity levels, an appetite, adequate weight gain or growth, and coat quality. The latter are often one of the best measures of health for a cat. Internal health symptoms are manifested by the return of certain critical values to normal based on periodic monitoring of complete blood counts and biochemistry. The most important values in the blood count are the hematocrit and the relative and absolute total number of white blood cells, neutrophils and lymphocytes. The most important values in biochemistry (or serum electrophoresis) are total protein, globulin, albumin and A: G ratio. Bilirubin is often elevated in cats by effusive FIP and may be useful in monitoring the severity and duration of inflammation. There are many other values in hematology and biochemistry panels, and it is not uncommon for some of them to be slightly higher or lower than normal, and it is better to ignore these values unless they are significantly elevated and associated with clinical symptoms - such as high urea and creatinine, which are also associated with increased water consumption, excessive urination, and abnormalities in urine analysis. The number of platelets in cats is notoriously low due to the trauma of blood collection and platelet aggregation, and should always be verified by a manual blood smear test. The final decision to discontinue or extend treatment when you encounter unclear doubts about different test procedures should always be based on external health manifestations more than on any single test result.

Different FIP groups have come up with different modifications of FIP treatment. Some groups will treat with an extremely high dose of GS from the beginning instead of increasing the dose only when indicated, or increase their GS dose in the last two weeks, or postpone treatment with a higher dose of GS in the hope of shortening the next two weeks. duration of treatment or reduce the likelihood of relapse. Some advocate the use of interferon omega or non-specific immunostimulants to further stimulate the immune system, and some use various other modifications. There is no evidence that modification of the extra high dose treatment will improve the cure rate. Similarly, interferon omega and non-specific immunostimulants have no demonstrated beneficial effects in FIP when administered as a single treatment or as adjuncts to GS. The practice of adding another antiviral drug, the viral protease inhibitor GC376, to the treatment of GS in cats that develop resistance to GS is also emerging, but this possibility still requires research. Finally, it is common for owners, treatment groups and veterinarians to add many supplements, tonics or injections (eg B12) to increase blood levels or to prevent liver or kidney disease. Such supplements are rarely needed in cats with pure FIP.

FIP relapses during the 12-week post-treatment observation period occur, and there is no simple blood test to predict whether a cure has occurred or is possible. Relapses usually involve infections that have entered the central nervous system (brain, spine, eyes) during treatment with wet or dry FIP, which has not been accompanied by neurological or ocular symptoms. The dose of GS-441524 used to treat these forms of FIP is often insufficient to effectively overcome the blood-brain or blood-eye barrier. The blood-brain barrier is more inaccessible than the blood-eye barrier, which explains why eye lesions are easier to treat than brain or spinal infections. Relapses that occur in the post-treatment period and that involve the eyes, brain or spine are usually treated for at least 8 weeks at an initial daily dose at least 5 mg / kg higher than the dose used during the primary treatment (eg 10, 12, 15 mg / kg daily). It is recommended that GS oral formulations not be used if the dose exceeds 10 mg / kg daily for injection, as intestinal absorption efficiency is reduced at high oral concentrations. Cats that cannot be cured of the infection at doses up to 15 mg / kg per day are likely to develop varying degrees of resistance to GS-441524. Partial resistance may allow the symptoms of the disease to be kept under control but not cured, while general resistance manifests itself in varying severity of clinical symptoms during treatment.

At the time of diagnosis, there may be resistance to GS-441524, but this is unusual. Rather, it occurs during treatment, and is often partial at first, leading to the need for higher dosing. In some cats, it may become complete. Resistance is a major problem in cats with neurological disease, especially those that have neurological symptoms or develop a brain infection during treatment, or during relapse after treatment has appeared to be successful. Many cats with partial drug resistance can be treated for signs of the disease, but relapse occurs as soon as treatment is stopped. The cats have been "treated" at the FIP for more than a year without healing, but eventually the resistance worsens or the owner runs out of money.

GS-441524 treatment shows no or minimal systemic side effects. It may cause mild kidney damage in some cats, but should not lead to kidney failure. Systemic vasculitis-type drug reactions have been observed in several cats and can be confused with injection site reactions. However, these drug reactions are in non-injectable areas and often go away on their own or respond well to short-term low-dose steroids. The main side effect of GS treatment is pain at the injection sites, which varies from cat to cat and according to the abilities of the person giving the injections (usually the owner). Injection site ulcers / lesions are a problem in some cats and usually occur when the injection site does not rotate (do not stay between the shoulders) and is not administered to the muscular and nervous layers under the skin. I recommend choosing places starting one inch behind the shoulder blades, down from the back to 1 to 2 inches in front of the tail and one third to half way down to the chest and abdomen. Many people use gabapentin before injections to relieve pain. The ulcers at the injection site are cleared of surrounding hair and gently cleaned 4 or more times a day with sterile cotton swabs soaked in dilute 1: 5 household hydrogen peroxide solution. They usually do not require any more complicated treatment and will heal in about 2 weeks.

We hope that the legal form GS-441524 will be available soon. The drug, called Remdesivir, is the greatest hope today, as Remdesivir breaks down into GS immediately when given intravenously to humans, mice, primates and cats. Remdesivir has received full US FDA approval, and similar approval is likely to follow in other countries. If so, it can be prescribed by any licensed human doctor and veterinarians. However, the use of Remdesivir in the United States is still limited to a specific subset of patients with Covid-19 and only under controlled conditions and with ongoing data collection. Until all restrictions are lifted, it will not be easily accessible for human use. I have no experience treating cats with Remdesivir instead of GS-441524. However, groups in Australia and some Asian countries are starting to use Remdesivir and are reporting the same results as GS-441524. The molar basis of Remdesivir is theoretically the same as GS-441524. GS-441524 free base has a molecular weight of 291.3 g / M, while Remdesivir has 602.6 g / M. Therefore, twice as much Remdesivir (602.6 / 291.3 = 2.07) would be needed to obtain 1 mg of GS-441524. The solvent for Remdesivir differs significantly from the solvent used for GS-441524 and is intended for IV use in humans. It is not known how diluted Remdesivir will behave when administered subcutaneously for 12 weeks or more. Mild signs of hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity have been observed with Remdesivir in humans. GS-441524 causes mild and non-progressive renal toxicity in cats, but without apparent hepatic toxicity. It is not clear whether the renal toxicity observed in humans receiving Remdesivir is due to its active ingredient (ie GS-441524) or to chemical agents designed to increase antiviral activity. Anivive is seeking GC376 approval for cats (and humans), but it will take another two or more years. GC376 is a viral protease inhibitor and acts differently from GS-441524, which inhibits early-stage viral RNA replication. Therefore, it is unlikely to have a significant synergistic viral inhibitory effect, but will be much more important in inhibiting drug resistance when used in combination therapy (such as combination antiviral therapy for HIV / AIDS).

Read “SUMMARY OF FIP TREATMENT USING GS-441524 (Dr. Pedersen)”

FIP treatment with oral forms GS-441524

Niels C. Pedersen, Nicole Jacque,
3.10.2021
Original article: FIP treatment with oral formulations of GS-441524

Introduction

Initial field testing of GS-441524 for FIP treatment involved subcutaneous administration. This route of administration was based on previous pharmacokinetic (PK) studies performed in laboratory cats. The intravenous and subcutaneous routes of injection yielded similarly high blood levels, which were maintained at virus-inhibiting concentrations for more than 24 hours. Oral administration has been found to lead to blood levels that peak after 2 hours, but reach only about 40 % peak levels of subcutaneous and intravenous administration (Pedersen NC, unpublished data, 2018). However, dogs that have a longer intestinal tract developed for omnivores can absorb up to 85 % GS441524 orally. [1, 5]. Dogs are often used as a surrogate for humans in oral absorption studies, so oral absorption in humans is also likely to be higher than in cats. 

Chinese suppliers of GS-441524 copied the diluent, drug concentration, and subcutaneous route used in the original published field study. Mutian was the first company to offer GS441524 on an unapproved market. Mutian was also the first company to investigate and offer an oral formulation. Mutian researchers found that effective blood levels of GS-441524 could only be achieved by increasing the concentration of the drug in their oral preparations. Other companies (eg Aura, Lucky) subsequently offered their own versions of the orally administered drug GS-441524. However, as of September 2021, Mutian no longer lists GS oral preparations (in any form) on its website. Aura, Lucky and Capella are currently the most widely used oral forms of GS441524 in the United States.

Current brands of capsules / tablets are sold as nutritional supplements and their labels list several common harmless chemical compounds and medicinal herbs, with GS-441524 not being listed at all. This is probably so that manufacturers avoid customs controls. Regardless of the list of ingredients, GS-441524 is the active ingredient in all oral products. The exact concentration of GS-441524 in the various oral preparations is kept secret by the vendors, but it is clearly higher (1.5-2-fold?) Than would be required if the drug was administered subcutaneously. 

Initially, we were critical of the oral route for two reasons. First, oral forms were more wasted by what was initially a rare and expensive resource. Second, published research on oral absorption of nucleosides (GS-441524 is a nucleoside) documents a concentration limit or ceiling for oral absorption [2-5]. Results with nucleoside-related EIDD-1931 showed a decrease in bioavailability from 56 to 36 % with increasing oral dose [6]. This limitation would theoretically make it difficult to achieve the extremely high blood levels needed to treat some forms of FIP (e.g., neurological) and / or to overcome the problem of acquired drug resistance. Oral bioavailability can also be significantly reduced by certain substances in the diet, and cat owners are known to use a large number of dietary supplements, some of which could adversely affect treatment. 

More and more owners and veterinarians appear to be using GS-441524 oral therapy for some or all of their treatment. The cost of GS-441524 oral products has been steadily declining and improving over the last two years. The problem of injection site reactions together with the more effective oral preparations GS-441524 have stimulated oral treatment and more and more cats are being treated with oral drugs either partially or completely. 

Composition and labeling

Most established oral preparations are small tablets that are easier to administer than larger capsules. Newer formulations, such as Sweeper, offer a soluble film form of GS-441524 to avoid "pill" difficulties in some cats. 

The actual amount of GS-441524 in the tablet / capsule and the recommended dosage of the oral medication will vary considerably depending on the form of the FIP, the vendor and the experience of the owner and the FIP treatment groups. Therefore, the actual amount (mg) of GS-441524 in a tablet or capsule is usually not reported. Instead of the actual amount of GS-441524 in a tablet or capsule, the seller's dosage is often based on the number of tablets needed per kg of weight, e.g. 1 tablet / kg orally (P0) every (q) 24 hours (h) for cats with wet or dry FIP and without ocular or neurological impairment. The amount of GS-41524 in one such tablet administered after 24 hours corresponds to a dose of 4-6 mg / kg SC after 24 hours, but the actual amount of GS in one tablet can be doubled as in 1 ml of injectable GS to compensate for the reduced bioavailability when administered oral route. 

In addition, one supplier (Aura / Spark) has tablets labeled for q12h administration and another for q24h dosing. 1 tablet / kg after 12 hours contains half the amount of GS-441524 (probably 4-6 mg) as 1 tablet / kg after 24 hours (probably 10 mg) - the reason is that dosing after 12 hours prevents a decrease in blood concentration 24 hours ago . However, effective blood levels after a single dose of PO or SC are maintained for 24 hours or longer in both cases. At doses corresponding to 10-15 mg / kg SC q24h, a further advantage of q8h or q12h over q24h may be an advantage, as it can help bypass the absorption ceiling. Therefore, in cats with doses corresponding to 10-15 mg / kg SC q24h or higher, a dose division of q8h or q12h is often used.

Dosage

The recommended starting dose of GS-441524 for cats with wet or dry FIP and without neurological or ocular symptoms is 4-6 mg / kg SC q24h. The injection dose for cats with ocular disease is 8 mg / kg SC q24h and for cats with neurological disease 10 mg / kg SC q24h. If a cat is started on wet FIP and then develops eye disease, the dose is immediately increased to 8 mg / kg SC q24h and if neurological symptoms develop, it is increased to 10 mg / kg SC q24h. Failure to treat FIP at doses higher than 15 mg / kg SC q24h indicates drug resistance. Doses of PO corresponding to 4-6, 8 and 10 mg / kg SC q24h are 10, 16 and 20 mg / kg PO q24h. (Note: some oral preparations are designated as SC equivalents, but in fact contain up to twice the reported mg GS) The recommended duration of treatment is 12 weeks, with dose increases if considered necessary. However, it is known that some cats can be cured in 6 weeks with any form of GS-441524, several in 8-10 weeks and almost all in 12 weeks. Young cats with abdominal wet FIP tend to respond the fastest, cats with dry FIP slower and cats with neurological FIP the slowest. Therefore, it is a "universal" recommendation to treat any cat with FIP, regardless of form, for at least 12 weeks. The daily dose in the form of PO can be divided into q12h, which may be advantageous in higher dose treatment to avoid an absorption ceiling. SC and PO treatment can be alternated q12h to avoid large injection volumes.

Oral GS dosing is less accurate than for injections. Tablets are difficult to separate because they tend to break, so halving is often the best thing to do. If the calculated dose after use falls within the indicated doses in the tablets, it is always recommended to round up to the nearest half of the tablet. 

Serving

All oral brands have similar instructions for the administration of capsules or tablets. Half an hour of fasting before and after administration is generally recommended. A small amount of treats can encourage cats to take the tablets, and many cats consume them when they are placed on a plate wrapped in treats (e.g., Churu). 

Costs

The price of oral GS has dropped significantly over the last year. Nevertheless, the relative price of the oral GS-441524 is 20-40 % higher (depending on the supplier) than its injectable version.  

Factors affecting oral and injectable administration 

Cats currently experiencing vomiting / regurgitation and diarrhea are generally considered unsuitable candidates for oral treatment with GS-441524. Therefore, cats with severe gastrointestinal disease are often injected at least until these problems are resolved. Most people, especially in the past, have started injecting GS-441524. The injection form is cheaper and the dosage is more precisely controlled. Absorption of GS-441524 is also more reliable by the subcutaneous route than by the oral route, which is often a critical factor in the initial treatment of cats that are initially seriously ill and unstable. Whether a cat will continue to inject GS-441524 is often conditioned by the owner's ability to inject as efficiently as possible, the cat's willingness to adapt to the pain of the injection, and the occurrence of injection wounds (lesions) at the injection site. Oral medications are often a welcome relief for both the owner and the feline patient in such situations. Some substances administered orally may interfere with the absorption of GS-441524. Therefore, you should avoid the inclusion of other medications and nutritional supplements unless they are necessary for the treatment of FIP. 

Comparison of the success of treatment with injection and oral GS-441524  

Assuming that the dosage is accurately calculated and properly adjusted, the success rate of the oral drug GS-441524 currently reflects the success rate of the injectable drugs. Nevertheless, differences in responses between oral and injectable GS-441524 have been reported. A small number of cats did not respond well to oral GS-441524 as initial treatment or led to relapses during injection replacement. Alternatively, switching cats to oral GS-441524 at the equivalent dose resulted in resolution of the disease, which did not respond well to injections. It is difficult to attribute these dramatic differences in formulation response as GS-441524 administered subcutaneously or orally enters the bloodstream and eventually the tissues. This is more likely to be due to the fact that the brands of GS-441524 injectable or oral medicine used prior to such a change were not good or that there were problems with absorption or administration. Indeed, there have been many cases where switching to another oral or injectable brand immediately resulted in improved response. 

It was originally thought that only the injectable form of GS-441524 could achieve the extremely high levels of blood and cerebrospinal fluid needed to effectively treat neurological disease, especially in situations where the virus developed varying degrees of drug resistance. However, oral markers such as Aura / Lucky have been effective in many cats with neurological FIP. This also applied to some cats that did not respond to the extremely high doses of GS441524 injection. More and more cats with neurological FIP are being treated exclusively with the oral form of GS. This is due either to greater experience with oral treatment in severe cases of FIP, or probably to higher quality oral products. 

An overview of currently available oral form brands GS-441524 

Note: The GS label and content reflect information provided by suppliers and have not been independently verified. 

Mutian - This is the original and most famous brand of the oral form GS-441524. It has been sold in several different forms, including several tablets and capsules. At the beginning of 2021, Mutian switched to the form of tablets, designated as 200 mg or 50 mg "Mutian" or "Xraphconn" - these deliver an equivalent SC dose of 10, respectively. 2.5 mg GS-441524. The tablets are significantly larger (8.5 mm diameter) than tablets from other suppliers. Recently, a new capsule formulation is rarely available. As of September 2021, Mutian's website no longer offers the option of PO. For all oral forms of Mutian, the supplier states the dosage: 100 mg / kg “Mutian” for wet / dry FIP, 150 mg / kg Mutian for ocular FIP and 200 mg / kg for neurological FIP. 

Aura / Spark - Aura is a long-established brand and is sold in tablets that are given every 12 or 24 hours. They are sold in versions q12h and q24h, but there is no difference in composition (ie extended release, etc.) between the two versions. The actual amount of GS-441524 in each tablet is not reported, but the label and effective dose are as follows:

MarkingInjectable equivalentDosage instructions
Aura 12h-1kgapprox. 2.5 mg / kgWet / dry: 1 tablet per kg twice a day
Ocular: 1.5 tablets per kg twice a day
Neurological: 2 tablets per kg twice a day  
Aura 24h – 1 kgapprox. 5 mg / kgWet / dry: 1 tablet per kg per day
Ocular: 1.5 tablets per kg per day
Neurological: 2 tablets per kg per day         
Aura 12h – 3 kgapprox. 7.5 mg / kgWet / dry: 1 tablet per 3 kg twice a day
Ocular: 1.5 tablets per 3 kg twice a day
Neurological: 2 tablets per 3 kg twice a day         
Aura 24h – 2 kgapprox. 10 mg / kgWet / dry: 1 tablet per 2 kg twice a day
Ocular: 1.5 tablets per 2 kg twice a day
Neurological: 2 tablets per 2 kg twice a day         

The equivalent oral dose for> 10 mg / kg daily GS injection is increased proportionately. The tablets can be combined regardless of the 12 / 24h label using an effective injection dose - for example, a 2.5 kg cat with a wet FIP could take one tablet 24h - 2 kg and one tablet 12h - 1 kg per day.

Lucky - Lucky tablets are designated 24h - 1 kg (equivalent dose 5-6 mg / kg SC) or 24h - 2 kg (equivalent dose approximately 10-12 mg / kg SC) and are said to have the same composition as comparable Aura tablets, although they have a different Face. For FIP without ocular or neurological symptoms, you should give one 1 kg tablet daily per kg cat weight or one 2 kg tablet for every 2 kg, rounded to the nearest half tablet. Multiply the number of tablets per day by 1.5 for ocular or 2 for neurological forms. 

MarkingInjectable equivalentWet / dry FIP dosing instructions (dosing doubles for neuro / ocular FIP)
Lucky 24h - 1 kgapprox. 5-6 mg1 tablet per kg per day
Lucky 24h - 2 kgapprox. 10-12 mg1 tablet per 2 kg per day

Capella - Capella produces two tablet sizes, 1 kg (dose 5-6 mg SC equivalent) and 2 kg (dose 10-12 mg SC equivalent). For FIP without ocular or neurological symptoms, you should give one 1 kg tablet daily per kg cat weight or one 2 kg tablet for every 2 kg and round up to the nearest half tablet. Multiply the number of tablets per day by 1.5 for ocular or 2 for neurological forms. 

Kitty Care - This is another low-cost brand that now offers both injectable and oral GS-441524. Each tablet is assumed to contain the equivalent of a 6 mg SC dose of GS-441524. 

Hero 16 -It is a well-known brand, which is supplied in easy-to-apply and divisible tablets intended for administration in a dose of one tablet per 2 kg body weight, such as Capella 2 kg tablets. Each tablet probably contains 16 mg of GS-441524. 

Rainman - This brand is popular in China and seems to have a good reputation in the countries where it is used. It is sold in 1 kg and 2 kg tablets, which are believed to contain the equivalent of 5-6 mg and 10-12 mg SC GS-441524. 

Mary - Mary is sold in capsules that probably contain the equivalent of 6 mg SC GS-441524

Additional brands- Panda, Pany, Sweeper, Sweeper movie

Reference studies on GI uptake of nucleosides similar to GS-441524 and GS-441524

  1. Thomas L. A precursor to remdesivir shows therapeutic potential for COVID-19. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210209/A-precursor-to-remdesivir-showstherapeuticpotential-for-COVID-19.aspx.
  2. Painter GR, Bowen RA, Bluemling GR, et al. The prophylactic and therapeutic activity of a broadly active ribonucleoside analog in a murine model of intranasal venezuelan equine encephalitis virus infection. Antiviral Res. 2019; 171: 104597. doi: 10.1016 / j.antiviral.2019.104597
    After oral administration EIDD-1931 is quickly absorbed as evidenced by plasma T-max-values ranging between 0.5 and 1.0 h.Exposures are high (C-ma-xvalues range between 30 and 40μM) and are dose dependent, but significantly less than dose proportional. The observation of decreasing bioavailability with increasing dose may indicate capacity limited absorption, a phenomenon that has been reported for other nucleosides (de Miranda et al., 1981). EIDD-1931, like most endogenous nucleosides and xenobiotic nucleoside analogs, is a highly polar, hydrophilic molecule (cLog P = −2.2) and therefore likely to require functional transporters to cross cell membranes. This dependence would explain the capacity limited uptake seen in the pharmacokinetic studies done using the CD-1 mice. Earlier reports also indicated that nucleoside uptake into mouse intestinal epithelial cells is primarily mediated by sodium dependent concentrative nucleoside transporters (Cass et al., 1999; Vijayalakshmi and Belt, 1988).
  3. Cass, CE, Young, JD, Baldwin, SA, Cabrita, MA, Graham, KA, Griffiths, M., Jennings, LL, Mackey, JR, Ng, AM, Ritzel, MW, Vickers, MF, Yao, SY, 1999 .Nucleoside transporters of mammalian cells. Pharm. Biotechnol. 12313–12352
  4. de Miranda, P., Krasny, HC, Page, DA, Elion, GB, 1981. The disposition of acyclovir indifferent species. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 219 (2), 309–315
  5. Vijayalakshmi, D., Belt, JA, 1988. Sodium-dependent nucleoside transport in mouse intestinal epithelial cells. Two transport systems with differing substrate specificities. Biol. Chem. 263 (36), 19419–19423.
  6. Yan VC, Khadka S, Arthur K, Ackroyd JJ, Georgiou DK, Muller FL. Pharmacokinetics of Orally Administered GS-441524 in Dogs. bioRxiv, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.04.429674
  7. FIP Warriors CZ / SK, https://www.fipwarriors.eu/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/fipczsk
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Serum protein electrophoresis

Kristiina Ruotsalo, DVM, DVSc, ACVP & Margo S. Tant, BSc, DVM, DVSc
Original article: Serum Protein Electrophoresis - General

What are serum proteins?

Serum is the liquid part of the blood from which red blood cells, white blood cells and blood clotting factors have been removed. The serum contains a large amount of protein, which performs various functions. These functions include providing cell nutrition, protecting against infections, acting in inflammation, and acting as hormones or enzymes.

What is serum protein electrophoresis?

Protein electrophoresis is a specialized test that analyzes specific groups of proteins in the blood serum and measures the proportion of each group of proteins. Individual proteins have characteristic sizes and electric charges. Electrophoresis divides serum proteins into broad groups based on their size and electrical charge. The results of the analysis are shown in a special graph and a pattern of different proteins is used to diagnose specific diseases, including some types of cancer.

What proteins does the test measure?

"Globulin levels - tend to rise in diseases."

There are many different proteins in the blood, but protein electrophoresis focuses on only two classes of proteins, called albumin and globulin. There is only one type of albumin and it is found in the blood at relatively constant levels; it is a versatile protein with a number of important roles, including the transport of substances in the body. In contrast, there are many types of globulins, each with a specific function. Globulin levels are more variable than albumin and tend to increase in disease.

When a blood sample is analyzed by routine methods, albumin and total globulin levels are measured. Protein electrophoresis goes further and divides the total globulin into its individual parts, called globulin fractions, which are then measured individually. By analyzing the types and amounts of different proteins in your blood, it is often possible to determine the nature of your pet's disease.

Typically, globulins are divided into the following fractions: α1 (Alpha 1), α2 (Alpha 2), β1 (Beta 1), β2 (Beta 2), γ (Gamma)

Why are globulins important?

Globulins play an important role in the body's defense system; some are "first rescuers," like firefighters, and quickly appear in the bloodstream after any tissue injury. Others, called antibodies, are produced by lymphoid cells, a type of white blood cell, and appear in the bloodstream more slowly after injury. Antibodies are essential for the body's ability to defend itself against bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.

High total blood globulin levels in most cases indicate underlying inflammation or infectious disease, but sometimes indicate the presence of cancer, especially affecting lymphoid cells. When determining the type and distribution of globulins, protein electrophoresis can help us decide what kind of disease it may be.

How does the test work?

Belch electrophoresis is like sorting a bowl of mixed colored beads into separate groups according to color and size and then counting how many beads are in each group. The test is based on the fact that albumin and different globulins have different sizes and that each type of protein carries a different electrical charge than static electricity. The serum sample is prepared and placed on a special grid. When an electric current is applied, different proteins migrate across the lattice at different rates, causing them to divide into groups according to size and electric charge. For example, albumin is a relatively small molecule and carries a lot of "static electricity"; it travels the farthest and fastest of all proteins and is always the first to appear on the chart. Globulins are generally larger and move more slowly, and antibodies, which are the largest of globulins and have the least "static electricity", move very slowly and are the last to be shown on the graph.

"… Each type of protein carries a different electric charge"

Once the proteins are divided into their groups, it is possible to measure the amount of each protein and display the results in a graph. The shape of the graph helps us to understand the underlying disease.

When should protein electrophoresis be done?

"Protein electrophoresis is recommended whenever total globulin levels are elevated and the cause is unknown."

Protein electrophoresis is recommended whenever total globulin levels are elevated and the cause is unknown. The higher the level of total globulins, the more suitable it is to perform protein electrophoresis. Globulins usually grow when there is inflammation, tissue injury or infectious disease. More importantly, however, globulin levels can be very high in some types of lymphoid cell cancers. When preliminary blood tests indicate that total globulin levels are elevated, protein electrophoresis should be performed to try to determine if the underlying disease is inflammatory or neoplastic.

How is the graph (electrophoretogram) interpreted?

The most important thing in interpreting the electrophoresis graph is whether the globulin is increased due to the growth of many different globulins or due to the growth of only one type of globulin. When many different globulins are elevated, we speak of a polyclonal increase (poly = many; clonal = type); when only one type of globulin is responsible for the increase, we speak of a monoclonal increase (mono = one; clonal = type). Inflammation is typically polyclonal, while lymphoid neoplasia is more likely to be monoclonal. Unfortunately, there is some overlap between the two general classifications.

Do the results always provide a definitive diagnosis?

No, but some serious diseases, both inflammatory and neoplastic, form a characteristic pattern on the electrophoresis chart that can quickly lead to a definitive diagnosis. In many inflammatory conditions, protein electrophoresis can provide valuable information about the severity of inflammation, where it may be located, and what it may cause.

Examples of electrophoretogram

Panel A: Normal agarose gel electrophoretogram in dogs. The highest peak on the left is albumin, followed by α1 (2 peaks), α2 (2 peaks), β1 (2 peaks, β1a and β1b), β2 and γ (last flat peak).
Panel B: Serum from a cat with a virus infection feline infectious peritonitis (FIPV). Visible increase α2 globulins (arrow), indicating acute phase reactant response, and polyclonal gammopathy (arrow in the γ region). These results are typical, but not specific, for FIPV infection (they can be observed in other inflammatory conditions).
Panel C: Serum from a dog with multiple myeloma. There is a high narrow peak in the γ region, which indicates monoclonal gammopathy (arrow). Albumin concentrations are also reduced (compared to a normal dog in panel A).

Co-authors: Kristiina Ruotsalo, DVM, DVSc, ACVP & Margo S. Tant, BSc, DVM, DVSc Read "Serum Protein Electrophoresis"

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): Hope for cats on the horizon

Sam Taylor, BVetMed (Hons), CertSAM, MANZCVS, DipECVIM-CA, FRCVS and Emi Barker BSc (Hons), BVSc (Hons), PhD, DipECVIM-CA, MRCVS summarize ideas about the manifestations and diagnosis of this disease and represent a new era of treatment .

Emi BarkerSamantha Taylor, VetTimes Volume 51, Issue 32, Pages 16-19 | August 31, 2021
Original article: Feline infectious peritonitis: hope on the horizon for cats

Figure 1. "Classic" Cat with a "classic" FIP with a large abdominal effusion. Image: Feline Center, Langford Vets, University of Bristol

FIP is caused by virulent mutations in feline coronavirus (FCoV), which transform it from a mild and enteric infection to a serious systemic disease.

Like other coronaviruses, FCoV is a large enveloped RNA virus - this is important when considering immune system avoidance, environmental survival, detection, treatment and prevention. FIP has a high mortality rate and, until recently, treatments were relatively ineffective.

This article summarizes current views on the manifestations and diagnosis of this disease. It also represents a new era of FIP treatment in the context of the recent availability of legal medicines in the UK.

What causes FIP?

FCoV is an alpha-coronavirus that infects domestic cats and other cats. It is from the same genus as canine enteric coronavirus and swine gastroenteritis virus. FCoV cannot infect humans and is only distantly related to SARS-CoV-2, beta-coronavirus, and pathogen COVID-19.

FCoV, as a feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) biotype, is commonly detected in faeces - especially in cats living in multi-cat households. The infection typically spreads via the fecal-oral route when kittens or young cats are in contact with excreting cats. The chances of survival of this enveloped virus in the environment are generally poor unless the virus is trapped in feces and is sensitive to most disinfectants.

In some cats, and at some point after the initial infection - between viral replication in enterocytes and efficient replication in macrophages and monocytes - the less virulent FECV mutates into a virulent form associated with FIP - that is, the FIP virus biotype (FIPV). Certain mutations associated with this transition have been found in the spike protein gene, although none of them are yet pathognomonic for FIP.

The high frequency of genomic mutations - a hallmark of RNA viruses - can also facilitate the avoidance of the host immune response and drive tissue tropism, leading to various manifestations of the disease. Natural direct transmission of FIPV between cats is considered rare, and it is generally believed that FIPV - and subsequently FIP - results from a new mutation in the FCoV of an individually infected cat.

Figure 2. Mild jaundice and pallor in cats with FIP.

One of the many complexities of FCoV and FIP is that the infection manifests itself in many different ways depending on viral factors such as strain and dose, but also on the cat's immune response and genetic factors.

A strong cell-mediated immune (CMI) response to FCoV appears to provide protection against FIP. In contrast, cats with a predominantly antibody-mediated response with a weak CMI response typically succumb to the effusive "wet" form of the disease due to immune-mediated vasculitis, while cats with moderate CMI develop tissue granulomas typical of the non-fusive "dry" form of FIP.

It is important to keep in mind that the effusive and non-fusive forms of FIP can significantly overlap, leading to a wide range of symptoms; short episodes of the effusive form of FIP may occur rather than the predominantly non-fusive form, and conversely, effusions may form in the terminal stages of the non-fusive form of FIP. In addition, many exuded cats have tissue granulomas.

Clinical signs

Classic presentation of a young cat with protein-rich ascites (Figure 1) may offer easier diagnostics; however, other cats may be more of a diagnostic challenge. Common non-specific symptoms include lethargy, anorexia and weight loss.

Affected cats may be febrile with a moderate fever, typically less than 40 ° C, which often fluctuates and responds poorly to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or antimicrobials, and jaundice, if present, is usually mild (Figure 2).

Figure 3. Hyphema, uveitis and hypopyon in cats with ocular FIP.

High protein viscous effusions are formed in approximately 80% cats with FIP - most (approximately 85%) involve the abdominal cavity, while fewer cases show thoracic effusion (approximately 20%).

Pericardial effusions are occasionally observed, although rarely causing tamponade, and very rarely, scrotal effusions occur in uncastrated cats.

Pyogranulomatous lesions can occur in any tissue, and while they commonly involve the abdominal organs (e.g., mesenteric lymph nodes and kidneys), the disease may be limited to other organs such as the eyes, brain, or spinal cord.

Ocular symptoms include uveitis, ceramic clots, hypopyon, hyphaemia (Figure 3) and retinitis. Neurological symptoms include ataxia, seizures, nystagmus, hyperesthesia, and behavioral / mental changes.

Diagnosis

Although one abnormality does not in itself determine the diagnosis of FIP, nor does their absence rule out the diagnosis, the veterinarian may base the suspicion on FIP with the following findings, bearing in mind signaling, clinical picture, clinical pathology, and imaging results if no alternative diagnosis is present. , more likely explanation:

Figure 4. MRI scan of a cat with FIP showing obstructive hydrocephalus and increased contrast of the meninges.
  • Clinical examination - may reveal fever, jaundice, abdominal distension (ascites; organomegaly), chorioretinitis, ataxia, cranial nerve deficits.
  • Blood analysis - lymphopenia, non-regenerative anemia, microcytosis, neutrophilia, hyperglobulinemia, low albumin / globulin ratio (A: G; classically less than 0.4), hyperbilirubinemia, high α-1 acid glycoprotein (often markedly elevated, more than 1.5 mg / ml).
  • Diagnostic imaging - effusions, abdominal lesions, CNS abnormalities consistent with meningeal thickening and / or obstructive hydrocephalus (Figure 4).
  • Efusion analysis - non-aseptic pyogranulomatous inflammation with a relatively low cell number (total number of nuclear cells higher than 5 × 109/ l; neutrophils and macrophages) with high protein concentrations (often higher than 35 g / l) and low A: G (Figure 5).
  • Molecular diagnostics - positive results of FCoV RNA RT-PCR in fluids (eg effusions, aqueous humor, CSF; Note: false positive and negative results are possible in whole blood) or aspirates with a thin needle (FNA) of the affected organ (eg kidneys, liver, mesenteric lymph nodes); the higher the viral load, the more evidence of FIP. Note: RT-PCR cannot confirm the diagnosis of FIP.

High levels of FCoV antibodies indicate only previous FCoV infection and do not indicate a diagnosis of FIP

The definitive diagnosis of FIP is confirmed by positive immunohistochemical staining for coronavirus antigen in macrophages associated with pathological changes in FIP in formalin-fixed tissue samples. However, sampling for histopathology and immunohistochemical staining requires invasive procedures, which may be contraindicated in a sick cat.

Figure 5. Sweat analysis is useful in diagnosing FIP; where possible, take a fluid sample.

Alternatively, the presence of antigen-positive coronavirus cells in cytological specimens (effusion, aqueous humor, cytospin CSF preparations or FNA from any abnormal organs - such as mesenteric lymph node) showing pyogranulomatous changes is very helpful in diagnosis and allows less invasive specimen acquisition.

Some researchers have used cell pellets prepared from centrifuged effusion samples to improve the sensitivity of immunohistochemical staining (Tasker et al, 2021).

However, it is important to diagnose FIP as reliably as possible before treatment, as there are many other differential diagnoses for these clinical symptoms - including neoplasia (especially lymphoma), other infectious diseases (pyothorax, toxoplasmosis, mycobacteriosis, fungal infections)) and primary immune-mediated disease (idiopathic disease). , uveitis, lymphocyte cholangitis). On the Figure 6 is a graph indicating possible diagnostic pathways.

Minimally invasive sampling may include abdominal or thoracic effusions and FNA abnormal organs.

More detailed diagnostic flowcharts for the diagnosis of FIP are available on the website of the European Advisory Committee on Feline Diseases (www.abcdcatsvets.org/feline-infectious-peritonitis).

Figure 6. Access to FIP diagnostics

FIP treatment with antiviral drugs

In recent years, publications have focused on antiviral drugs (GS-441524, a nucleoside analog that inhibits viral RNA polymerase, and GC376, a viral protease inhibitor) with the potential to cure experimentally induced cats (Kim et al, 2016; Murphy et al, 2018) and naturally obtained (Pedersen et al, 2018; 2019; Dickinson et al, 2020) FIP.

Unfortunately, until recently (see below), legal formulations of these drugs were not commercially available, although some owners obtained and administered illegal formulations to their cats of unknown origin and at great expense.

Remdesivir, a prodrug of GS-441524, is an antiviral drug with a broad spectrum of activity against RNA viruses. It was originally developed to treat hepatitis C virus and Ebola virus in humans. Its development was then significantly accelerated due to the worldwide treatment of SARS-CoV-2.

In Australia, remdesivir has been legally available to veterinarians for several months as a "special" formulation that allows veterinarians to gain experience with this drug in the treatment of cats and kittens with FIP, where it has shown promising results. Unlike GS-441524, remdesivir has low oral bioavailability and is administered by intravenous infusion to human patients.

In the UK, remdesivir is legally available through Gilead Sciences, a patent-pending company that manufactures a medicinal product for human use. The currently available formulation is Veklury, a powder for reconstitution with water for solutions for injection to a final remdesivir concentration of 5 mg / ml. After reconstitution, it should be cooled and consumed within 24 hours.

Figure 7. Vials with reformulated remdesivir will be available to treat FIP, legally, in the UK from August 2021.

In cats, SC is usually administered unofficially, although some cats may benefit from initial IV administration. From August 2021, remdesivir will also be available from specialty drug manufacturers as a veterinary ál special ’(Figure 7) in the United Kingdom. The reformulated remdesivir will be supplied in vials containing 100 mg remdesivir, at a concentration of 10 mg / ml, allowing for smaller injection volumes, with a shelf life of at least three months when properly stored.

The experience of our colleagues from Australia (Malik, personal communication) allows us to design benefits according to the above plan. The authors emphasize the need to diagnose FIP before using this drug to ensure its proper use, while acknowledging that the diagnosis of FIP can be anticipated due to clinical or financial diagnostic limitations.

Costs, prolonged nature of the treatment cycle (recommended at least 12 weeks), potential discomfort with SC injections and risk of relapse should be discussed with cat owners before initiating therapy.

Owners may be instructed to give daily injections to their cat, but must be thoroughly trained to avoid unintentional self-administration, incorrect technique that may harm the cat, and to minimize the risk of the cat reacting to injections leading to bite or scratch injuries. This healing process requires committed owners and is an emotional as well as a significant financial commitment.

Depending on the clinical condition of the cat, supportive therapy is still needed (eg IV or SC fluids, antiemetic stimulation and appetite, analgesia, tube nutritional support, sepsis antimicrobials). Cats with uveitis may require topical treatment with corticosteroids and cats with neurological symptoms may need anti-seizure medication.

Figure 8. Bengal kitten with ocular and neurological FIP before (left) and after (right) remdesivir treatment.

Although systemic use of corticosteroids is not generally recommended concomitantly with the use of antivirals, short-term administration of corticosteroids may be considered in cats with a strong suspicion of secondary immune-mediated disease due to FIP (eg immune-mediated haemolytic anemia).

The success rate of treatment is high - 80% to 95% (Malik, personal communication; Figure 8) - and therefore we have reason to be optimistic when discussing treatment with clients, even though we are aware of the commitment and the associated costs and potential for relapse.

Increasing the success of treatment

The treatment is long and remdesivir can be painful when injected. Once opened, the medicine should be stored in the refrigerator and should be warmed to room temperature before injection. Needle size can affect discomfort; for some patients, a faster injection of a larger diameter "green" needle (21G) may be more advantageous, while a smaller diameter orange "orange" (25G) needle may be more advantageous. A new needle should be used for each injection.

Some cats will need to go to the clinic every day for an injection. Gabapentin or trazodone (both 50 mg to 100 mg orally per cat), given two hours before the deadline to reduce anxiety and pain, may benefit some cats. Other cats may need a dose of buprenorphine (0.02 mg / kg to 0.03 mg / kg transmucosally or IM in a clinic before treatment).

To reduce discomfort, the injection site can be trimmed and EMLA topical anesthetic cream applied 45 to 60 minutes before injection. Injection tolerance appears to vary between cats.

Remdesivir in the treatment of FIP


Dosage

  • FIP s exudates (ie ascites and / or pleural effusion), but without any ocular or neurological impairment: 7 mg / kg until 8mg / kg once a day.
  • FIP s ocular symptoms (that is, uveitis or other eye disorders, but without neurological impairment): 10 mg / kg once a day.
  • FIP s neurological symptoms: 12 mg / kg until 15mg / kg once a day.

Method of administration

  • Most cases: SC injection into the loose skin of the interscapular area.
  • Very severe cases: 10 mg / kg may initially be given by intravenous infusion (ie diluted in 10 ml saline and given slowly over 10 to 20 minutes) to achieve a rapid antiviral effect; This can be done after three to four days of SC injection as soon as the cat starts eating and its health improves. Note: After intravenous administration, some cats may experience depression for several hours.

Duration of treatment

  • Treatment of at least 84 days (ie 12 weeks) should be considered. This time is based on a clinical study with GS-441524 and the unofficial use of remdesivir to minimize the likelihood of FIP relapse.
  • After 84 days, treatment should only be discontinued if the patient is clinically OK and abnormal laboratory parameters have returned to normal.
  • If the response to treatment is only partial or unsatisfactory, a prolongation of treatment may be necessary.

Monitoring

  • In the first days, closely monitor for clinical signs:
    - Improvement should be rapid, within a few days, with weight gain and improvement in clinical symptoms.
    - Consider verifying the diagnosis if no improvement is seen (with regard to the following symptoms):
    Efusion (especially pleural) may worsen for one to two days at the start of treatment and may require therapeutic thoracocentesis or abdominocentesis. This appears to occur most frequently after IV treatment. Consider ultrasound monitoring once or twice daily.
    Neurological symptoms may initially appear or worsen in the first days of treatment. This may include the development of seizures that may require medical attention (eg levetiracetam 20 mg / kg to 30 mg / kg every eight hours).
  • The weight should be checked regularly and the doses adjusted accordingly.
  • Monitor PCV, total proteins (albumin and globulin), bilirubin and other abnormal parameters until they return to normal. The frequency of monitoring varies between veterinarians; a monthly assessment of biochemistry and hematology is usually performed, but should be adapted to the client's finances and the cat's response and behavior.
  • Serum globulins may increase initially, but any hyperglobulinemia usually resolves by week 12.
  • Remdesivir is reported to cause reno / hepatotoxicity in humans, but these have only been observed at higher doses by our Australian colleagues, who resigned when the dose was reduced. * Higher doses may be required depending on the response. Using lower doses to reduce costs may increase the likelihood of treatment failure. Please note that these dosing recommendations may change depending on the growing amount of data and clinical experience of veterinarians using this medicine. It is recommended to consult an expert in cats or internal medicine to discuss the individual case and the appropriate dosage.

Further treatment

The researchers are looking at the beneficial effects of immunostimulants and / or other antiviral medicines, such as interferons or mefloquine, once remdesivir treatment is stopped or if the injections are considered too painful. Most studies published to date have focused on the use of antiviral drugs alone.

Thanks

The authors would like to thank their Australian colleagues David Hughes, Rebecca Brady and Richard Malik for sharing their experiences with remedivirus treatment in cats with FIP. Thanks also to Séverine Tasker and Professor Gunn-Moore for comments on the article.

Do you need advice on FIP treatment?

Stephanie Sorrell and Danièlle Gunn-Moore of the University of Edinburgh will recruit cases to monitor the UK's response to the remdesivir, with more information coming soon.

If advice is needed in the meantime on the diagnosis and treatment of a suspected FIP case, send an e-mail to fipadvice@gmail.com

References

  • Dickinson PJ, Bannasch M, Thomasy SM, Murthy VD, Vernau KM, Liepnieks M, Montgomery E, Knickelbein KE, Murphy B and Pedersen NC (2020). Antiviral treatment using the adenosine nucleoside analogue GS-441524 in cats with clinically diagnosed neurological feline infectious peritonitis, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 34(4): 1,587-1,593.
  • Kim Y, Liu H, Galasiti Kankanamalage AC, Sahani Weerasekara S, Hua DH, WC Groutas, Chang K and Pedersen NC (2016). Reversal of the progression of fatal coronavirus infection in cats by a broad-spectrum coronavirus protease inhibitor, PLOS Pathogens 12(3): e1005531.
  • Murphy BG, Perron M, Murakami E, Bauer K, Park Y, Eckstrand C, Liepnieks M and Pedersen NC (2018). The nucleoside analog GS-441524 strongly inhibits feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus in tissue culture and experimental cat infection studies, Veterinary Microbiology 219: 226-233.
  • Pedersen NC, Kim Y, Liu H, Galasiti Kankanamalage AC, Eckstrand C, Groutas WC, Bannasch M, Meadows JM and Chang KO (2018). Efficacy of a 3C-like protease inhibitor in treating various forms of acquired feline infectious peritonitis, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 20(4): 378-392.
  • Pedersen NC, Perron M, Bannasch M, Montgomery E, Murakami E, Liepnieks M and Liu H (2019). Efficacy, and safety of the nucleoside analog GS-441524 for treatment of cats with naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 21(4): 271-281.
  • Tasker S and members of the European Advisory Board for Cat Diseases (2021). Feline infectious peritonitis guidelines, www.abcdcatsvets.org/feline-infectious-peritonitis
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