Discovery of Flawed Gene Holds Promise for Treating Kidney Disease in Cats and
The genetic mutation that causes a common and often fatal kidney disease in
cats, which parallels a human kidney disease, has been identified by
researchers in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.
The researchers, led by Assistant Professor Leslie, anticipate the discovery
will lead to new therapies for polycystic kidney disease in both humans and
cats, and will enable cat fanciers to gradually eliminate the defective gene
from their breeding lines.
Polycystic kidney disease is the most prevalent inherited disease in cats. It
affects about 6 percent of the cat population worldwide and about 38 percent
of the Persian cat breed. As the disease develops, it causes fluid-filled
cysts to form in the cat's kidney, often leading to kidney failure and death.
"Now, as soon as a kitten is born, we will be able to know with nearly 100
percent accuracy whether the animal carries PKD," Lyons said. "Up until now,
breeders had to wait nine months for an ultrasound examination that was 95
percent accurate and too late for making decisions about whether to show or
eventually breed the kitten."
She noted that knowing the genetic basis for feline polycystic kidney disease
is likely also to have significance for human medicine. There is currently no
exact animal model for developing drug and gene therapies for the human
disease, which affects one in every 2,000 people in the world. The human form
of polycystic kidney disease is the third leading cause of kidney failure and
is more common than muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis combined.
Findings from the study appeared in the October issue of the Journal of the
American Society of Nephrology. The research was funded by the Winn Feline
Foundation, the Waltham Foundation, the George and Phyllis Miller Feline
Health Fund, the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis' School of
Veterinary Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health.