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 when these values are updated together 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 while 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 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 faced with unclear doubts about different testing procedures should always be based on external manifestations of health 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).

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